The richly diverse volcanic landscape of El Malpais offers solitude, recreation, and adventure. Explore incredible geologic features such as lava flows, cinder cones, lava tube caves, and sandstone bluffs. While some may see a desolate environment, people have been adapting to and living in this extraordinary terrain for generations. The name El Malpais (el-mal-pie-EES) is from the Spanish term Malpaís, meaning badlands, due to the extremely barren and dramatic volcanic field that covers much of the park’s area.
Sandstone Cliffs were the first stop within the park. It was more impressive than I had imagined and working the cliff wall was one of the nicer hikes of the trip. From there it was off to Lava Falls which turned out to be my second favorite hike of the trip. Walking through fresh lava flows was a totally new experience for me. Couple that with how nice the morning was just took it to the next level. Short hike, less than two hours, but I’ll remember it. The Narrows Hike should have been just as nice but was not. Too tired, too windy, too much distance from the trail to the cliff wall. I would do it again, but Lava Falls pushed all the buttons.