After a quick four days in New Mexico, it was time to begin the second portion of our Spring Break Southwest Adventure road trip. We loaded up and headed west for Flagstaff, AZ, where we would spend two days before heading back to the San Gabriel Valley. We hit the road right after breakfast with the intention of stopping at Petrified Forest just off the I-40 just over 100 miles from our destination. We didn’t quite make it to Petrified Forest, as we made a stop after lunch in Grants, NM where the scenery made a change to from flat to lava fields. Welcome to El Malpais National Monument.
The El Malpais Visitor Center is off I-40 exit 85. Check in here first for visitor info and to pick up your junior ranger booklets.
Many of the sights are accessible via exit 89, NM 117 and exit 81, NM 53. The day we visited, the ranger station was closed, so I would recommend checking with the visitor center.
Some of the lava tubes are accessible to hikers but require a permit. We were not able to visit due to the hibernating bats.
We didn’t have time, but El Morro National Monument is only about 45 minutes away on NM 53. It is another park that participates in the junior ranger program and is another short trip worth checking out if you’re out in the area.
I love little semi-spontaneous stops on our vacations. That’s the fun of road-tripping. You really get the chance to explore, and the American West is full of areas to traverse. Happy trails!
For more info and source info, visit https://www.nps.gov/elma/index.htm.