Friday, July 30, 2010

El Malpais ~ Part I

El Malpais means "the badlands" in Spanish and this enormous National Monument and National Conservation Area is located south of I-40 midway between Gallup and Albuquerque.
The first time we passed by this area, it was covered in snow and the various landscape features were not this obvious! Can you see the volcano?
All of the areas in this post are from sites along HWY 53 and this particular volcano I spotted not far from the Ice Caves (a privately owned attraction).

In the El Calderon area you can explore Junction Cave, a lava tube cave that has 2 separate entrances which provide a bit of natural light. It was formed approximately 115,000 years ago. If you bring flashlights you can explore further and even go down Right Hook Tunnel.

Double Sinks are 2 sinks holes approximately 80 feet deep.

Bat Cave is another lava tube cave home to little brown bats, pallid bats, and Townsend's big eared bats which live and hibernate in this cave and others in the monument year round. The cave is also the summer home to Mexican free-tailed bats. At dusk, bats can be seen flying from the entrance to forage for insects. (Please do not enter bat cave or otherwise disturb the bats).

If visiting this area with small children or on a very hot day, I recommend going back the way you came at this point.
If you are up for further exploring you can continue on to Lava Trench area, then to the El Calderon Cinder Cone.

For further information please visit: http://www.nps.gov/elma/index.htm
And stayed tuned to this blog for "El Malpais ~ Part II" coming in the next few weeks.

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