Sunday, March 18, 2012

El Malpais

17 March, 2012: Suzanne and I, with Lotto, our foster care dog, took in the sights on the eastern edge of the lava flow known as El Malpais (the badlands), south of Grants. State highway 117 threads the narrow gap between the huge lava flow and a long ridge to its east.

First, we pulled off on the west side of the road, to the Sandstone Bluff overlook. It towers several hundred feet over the lava. Off to the west, the horizon consists largely of the unimpressive (by Colorado standards) peaks of the Continental Divide. Mount Taylor is visible far to the north.

Next, we pulled out on the east side of the road and made the short (¼-mile) hike to the base of the La Ventana stone arch. It's pretty impressive. The literature I've read note La Ventana as the second-largest rock arch in New Mexico. The largest, Snake Bridge, is somewhat cryptically noted as being “inaccessible.” Apparently, this means that it's on an Indian reservation which bars public access. The view of the arch from below (see pictures) is impressive, but a better one is said to be from the cliff edge to the south, at the northern end of the Narrows Rim Trail.

So, lastly, we went farther south and hiked about the first mile of the Narrows Rim Trail, which winds north along the edge of the ridge. The term “The Narrows” refers to the slim space between the eastern edge of the Malpais lava flow and the cliff face. We didn't make it to the end, and that other view of the arch, but the views out over the lava field were very nice.

Although it was windy, it was an amazingly warm day for winter and a great day to be out.

Photos are at:

Long life and many peaks!


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