One of our favorite stops in New Mexico is El Malpais National Monument. Conveniently situated off of Interstate 40, El Mal is surrounded by tribal lands and the Cibola National Forest. It’s a great place to pause in the drive between Flagstaff and Albuquerque. The National Park Service has a free guide to the history and culture of the El Malpais, New Mexico area here: https://www.nps.gov/elma/learn/historyculture/upload/ELMA_hist.pdf.
So far our stops have been simple overnight or picnic break affairs. We’ve enjoyed rambling around the Sandstone Bluffs Picnic Area and exploring La Ventana and the Narrows. The free primitive camping area has its own charm. We hope to spend a few nights there sometime in order to explore more of the caves, hiking trails, and cinder cones left behind by ancient lava flows. El Morro National Monument is also close by.
Another item on our El Mal bucket list is to join a summer ranger program to see the bats leave the Bat Cave.
El Malpais, New Mexico Visitor Center offers a wealth of information about the area, hiking trails and more. The parking lot is RV friendly, as are the main roads through the monument. We have not gone off on the smaller roads yet, so make sure you investigate before getting stuck. The road to the campground is dirt and subject to flooding and mud. Brochures, maps, and information can be downloaded from the National Park Service website.
For more info and to plan your trip:
El Malpais, New Mexico
1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Grants, NM 87020