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10 Great El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites

Last updated on May 8th, 2022 at 01:00 am

el malpais national monument La Ventana

The El Malpais  National Monument covers very vast and covers a large area of over 114,000 acres and offers a number of free camping options. There is a lot to explore and experience within a short time of like an hour and a lot to explore for a long period of like a week. The experiences you can get from this place range from self-guided trails and scenic drives to exploring the remote wilderness. You can hike along this area and get the best experiences with nature up to the top of the cinder cones and down the rugged terrains.

El Malpais National Monument has some of the best hiking spots that anyone who loves hiking experiences would like to explore. You can never go wrong hiking here and finding your trails. There are many beautiful geologic features that one can explore, such as cones, caves, and lava flows.

There are many beautiful caves to explore that give a reason to visit El Malpais National Monument. Researchers have been visiting the place from time to time and making discoveries, and it gives you a reason to visit and explore the different discoveries that are made from time to time.

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History of El Malpais National Monument

El Malpais National Monument is located in Cibola County, New Mexico state. It is a high lava flow area, and the monument covers an area of 179 square miles, with 133 square miles of the total area being covered by black lava. The area became a national monument in 1987 after many years of negotiation, but the landscape has existed for many years, and people have interacted with it for over 10,000 years.

The El Malpais National Monument was named in the early 1500 by the Spanish explorers searching for wealth and new lands, which means badlands. They named this land malpais due to the encounter they had with the rugged lava flows. The American Indians who have lived around the badlands for thousands of years have always utilized the park for their traditional activities.

10 Great El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites

1. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Locations – El Malpais Scenic ByWay

Address
County Road 42
Grants, New Mexico
GPS: 34.705776, -108.028586
Elevation: 7083′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management

Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management Rio Puerco District. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted. This is a high elevation location.

2. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Joe Skeens – El Malpais NCA

Address
HWY 117
Grants, New Mexico
GPS: 34.941908, -107.820155
Elevation: 6898′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt. Joe Skeens – El Malpais NCA is open Year-round. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 36′. You may stay see description at Joe Skeens – El Malpais NCA.

3. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Spots – El Morro National Monument

Address
HC 61 Box 43
Ramah, New Mexico
GPS: 35.036999, -108.335999
Elevation: 7216′

Management Public – National Park Service (Official)

The road in is Paved. El Morro National Monument is open All year round. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 27 Feet. You may stay 7 Days at El Morro National Monument.

4. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Locations – Ojo Redondo Campground

Address
Forest Road 480
Thoreau, New Mexico
GPS: 35.158545, -108.108508
Elevation: 8815′

Management Public – USDA Forest Service (Official)

Ojo Redondo Campground is open June-October. There are 16-29 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Ojo Redondo Campground.

5. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Walmart Supercenter #2652

Address
1000 Robert Rd
Grants, New Mexico
GPS: 35.125303, -107.826272
Elevation: 6417′

Management Private – Retail Store (Unofficial)

6. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Spots – Petro Stopping Center #313

Address
1430 Motel Dr
Milan, New Mexico
GPS: 35.181, -107.9038
Elevation: 6529′

Management Private – Truck Stop

The road in is Paved. There are 16-29 campsites at this location. You may stay 1 night at Petro Stopping Center #313.

7. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Locations – Lobo Canyon Campground

Address
Grants, New Mexico
GPS: 35.20367, -107.71503
Elevation: 7437′

Management Public – USDA Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Paved. Lobo Canyon Campground is open May 9 for 2015. You may stay unknown at Lobo Canyon Campground.

8. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Route 66 Travel Center

Address
I-40 and NM state 23
Paraje, New Mexico
GPS: 35.03244, -107.47724
Elevation: 5955′

Management Private – Truck Stop (Official)

The road in is Paved. Route 66 Travel Center is open 24/365. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay overnight at Route 66 Travel Center.

9. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Spots – Pie Town Jackson Park

Address
Pie Town, New Mexico
GPS: 34.296906, -108.130104
Elevation: 7782′

Management Public – City Park (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 300ft miles from a paved road. Pie Town Jackson Park is open 365 days. There are 16-29 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is none.

10. El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Locations – County Rd 162

Address
Fort Wingate, New Mexico
GPS: 35.39849, -108.52882
Elevation: 7700′

Management Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Paved. Pie Town RV Park is open Year Round. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay Up to Monthly at Pie Town RV Park.

Our Top 10 Hiking Trails at El Malpais National Monument

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #1. La Ventana Arch

1. La Ventana Arch El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail

It is a beautiful arch and very easy to access. You can comfortably hike here and even carry your dog without the fear of ruining its paws. It is a good stopover just off the highway. It is a relatively easy hike that anyone can easily hike. You get a very beautiful sight from the arch, and the hike is short and friendly for the young and the old. The length of this trail is around 0.4 mi.

Length: 0.4 mi
Elevation gain: 45 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Dog friendly, Views, Wildflowers

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #2. Big Tubes Trail

2. Big Tubes Trail El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail

The giant tube trail is longer than the La Ventana Arch and covers around 1.9 mi. It is a great trail to hike, but you need to carry proper hiking shoes due to the rocky terrain. There are many amazing views and beautiful caves and vegetation that will give you the best experience. The trail is not very friendly to pets, and it is advisable to leave your pets. The caves are good spots to visit and a worth-it experience.

Length: 1.9 mi
Elevation gain: 78 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Cave, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky,
No dogs

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #3. El Calderon Loop Trail

3. El Calderon Loop trail El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail

It is an easy trail to hike with beautiful views of the forest, wildflowers, and lava tubes. The trail is around 3.8 mi and an easy one to hike. There are many beautiful caves that you can access with permission from the rangers. It is also important to check the best weather to hike in as sometimes it gets muddy and snowy. It is important to wear comfortable hiking shoes and walk to the trail’s end to have some of the best views.

Length: 3.8 mi
Elevation gain: 374 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Cave, Dog friendly, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #4. Narrows Rim Trail

4. Narrows Rim Trail El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Spots

This trail is an out and back trail that covers 7.3 mi. The hike is quite a decent one, with incredible views from the edge of the cliff. There are few shades on the trail but beautiful views throughout the hike. It is an easy-to-navigate trail, and it is best to hike to the end of the trail to see the most impressive features. You can also carry your dog on this trail. It is essential to carry water along this trail as it is long and start early to get the best experiences before it is dark.

Length: 7.3 mi
Elevation gain: 554 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Dog friendly, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #5. Ice Caves and Bandera Volcano

5. Ice Caves and Bandera Volcano El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites

The trail is 1.8 mi and lightly trafficked by you, accessible all year round. There is much to learn on the trail about volcanic history. The trail is beautiful, easy, and well-maintained to hike. It is an easy hike, and you can easily carry young kids around or a dog but with its leash. It is a worthwhile trial to give a trial.

Length: 1.8 mi
Elevation gain: 190 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Cave, Views, Rocky, Fee

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #6. El Malpais National Monument Sandstone Bluffs

6. El Malpais National Monument Sandstone Bluffs El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites

Sandstone Bluffs trail is a short one of 3.4 mi km. The trail is very beautiful and a fantastic experience to explore the sandstone bluffs. You can see the fantastic lava black fields and lava flows on this trail. Despite being rocky, you can carry children along as it is not very long.

Length: 3.4 mi
Elevation gain: 265 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, OHV/Off-road driving, Walking, Views

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #7. Zuni Acoma Trail

7. Zuni Acoma Trail El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Locations

Zuni Acoma trail s a long and breathtaking trail but requires a lot of caution to avoid getting lost. The hike takes a long time due to the rocks and finding the routes but still worth one to try. You need to wear proper hiking shoes with good soles due to the lava, and it is not advisable to carry your pet to avoid damaging their paws. It is a tough hike but a generally interesting, fun one to try. The trail is about 15.4 mi. in length.

Length: 15.4 mi
Elevation gain: 285 ft
Route type: Out & back

Backpacking, Hiking, Views, Wildlife, Rocky, No shade

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #8. Lava Falls Trail

8. Lava Falls Trail El Malpais National Monument Boondocking Locations

It is a cool hike to embark on and easy to stroll along the lava rock. The trail is only 1.1 mi miles but takes longer due to the nature of the terrain. It is easy to navigate when looking at the cairns. All you need is good hiking shoes with good soles and the spirit of adventure.

Length: 1.1 mi
Elevation gain: 29 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Views, No dogs

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #9. Sandstone Bluffs Trail

9. Sandstone Bluffs trail El Malpais National Monument

The trail is 3.8 mi and lightly trafficked. It is enjoyable to hike along this trail, and you can easily get lost because there are no cairns. The views are very beautiful from the top and very beautiful bluffs. You can carry kids along this hike, and the ay also enjoys the experience. In case you carry your dog, ensure it has a leash.

Length: 3.8 mi
Elevation gain: 295 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Views, Rocky, Scramble, Off trail, No shade

El Malpais National Monument Hiking Trail #10. Grants to Quemado Scenic Drive

10. Grants Road El Malpais National Monument

This is a very long trail, and you can access it through bike riding or scenic driving. It is around 86.5 mi long, and you can drive or ride along to watch the wildlife. You can also hike as there are many hiking opportunities. The beauty of the wildlife and the views are breathtaking and allow you to experience the real country. Bikers can have a good time mountain biking.

Length: 86.5 mi
Elevation gain: 2,864 ft
Route type: Point to point

Road biking, Scenic driving, Paved, Views, Wildlife
 

5 Things To Do At EL Malpais National Monument

The road in is Dirt. Came here in a 31 ft class C towing vehicle behind on tow dolly. I wouldn’t recommend for bigger rigs as we had some trouble navigating trees and turns (quite narrow) and no easy pull thru spots that we could find.

1. Hiking

The El Malpais National Monument has numerous hikes you can explore. You can follow many trails, some strenuous and covered with lava flows and other moderate trails in the trees. Some of these trails are pet-friendly, and you can carry your pet along, but others may not be friendly as they may injure their paws. It is wise to consult on where to carry your pets along without causing them injuries.

2. Scenic Driving

Instead of hiking or trekking, you can opt to drive around the monuments as you explore and enjoy the many attractions. You come across various attractions such as the ranger station and the volcano and ice caves when driving through the different highways. When opting for dirt roads, it is important to use four-wheel drive to have the best experiences.

3. Bat Watching

You can also go to the park to watch the bats. The bats fly out of the bats’ cave on a warm summer night on the El Calderon trail, searching for food. You need to visit El Calderon just before evening to see the bats.

4. Ranger programs

The ranger programs give you a chance to learn new things and explore with the help of a ranger. The ranger guides you on the different programs that you can undertake in your adventure. These programs are mostly available during the summer months. These programs include astronomy, bats out flight, and evening programs at the El Malpais visitor center. To take part in these programs, it is essential to check the schedule for the programs and book a month prior.

5. Photography

Everything about the El Malpais National Monument is beautiful. You can never go wrong with visiting the place to capture the beautiful and scenic views. If you are interested in photography or would love to try, you can have a lot of fun at El Malpais because you will have a lot of beauty to capture with your lens.

Our Top 10 Trail to Hike In El Malpais

When you visit El Malpais, one of the best things to do there is hiking. You, therefore, need to know some of the best hiking trails that you can follow to have an amazing experience. Here are the top 10 trails to hike in El Malpais National Monument.

Places and things to do and see in El Malpais National Monument

The El Malpais National Monument is a vast and vast area with many activities to do in the area. You can visit multiple places here and spend around a week visiting most of these places. The park is full of adventure, and you can always have a good time visiting El Malpais. Here are some of the things you can do in El Malpais


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