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Malpais Nature Trail

Valley of Fires

Sacramento Mountains Area, New Mexico

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Malpais Nature Trail

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  • Malpais Nature Trailhead.- Malpais Nature Trail
  • View looking southwest from the initial switchbacks.- Malpais Nature Trail
  • The yucca and spoon plant among the lava rock. - Malpais Nature Trail
  • One example of the hardened lava that can be seen throughout the tail.  The lava formed interesting patterns.  - Malpais Nature Trail
  • The yucca and spoon plant among the lava rock. - Malpais Nature Trail
  • More of the plant life along the trail.- Malpais Nature Trail
  • A view of the well maintained asphalted trail. - Malpais Nature Trail
  • View to the southwest.- Malpais Nature Trail
  • Yucca plant getting ready to bloom.- Malpais Nature Trail
  • View to the northeast. - Malpais Nature Trail
  • Cacti in bloom.- Malpais Nature Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
ADA accessible. Flora and fauna. Educational.
Cons: 
Foot traffic.
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Region:
Sacramento Mountains Area, NM
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Highest point: 
5,242.00 ft (1,597.76 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Fall
Total Distance: 
0.90 mi (1.45 km)
Total elevation gain: 
30.00 ft (9.14 m)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,242.00 ft (1,597.76 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Sponsored Contributor

Malpais Nature Trail in Valley of Fires National Recreational Area is a short, 0.9-mile loop trail in the heart of the Tularosa Basin. The lava field that extends for miles is home to a variety of cacti and wildlife. This trail is completely paved, making it accessible for everyone. The trail starts from the parking lot where it descends to the lava field over the course of four long switchbacks to the lava field. From there the trail meanders through the black rock that is filled with several species of cacti, with yucca, and spoon plant (not to be confused with the yucca plant). Late April and early May visitors can see the wildflowers of the yucca and cacti in bloom. The trail finally loops around the initial switchbacks, which hikers have to follow back to the parking lot.  

The lava field runs for more than 45 miles and is believed to have been caused by vents in the Earth's crust. The main vent, Little Black Peak, can be seen from the trail as well as some of the Sacramento Mountains to the east. Visitors may also be treated to animals of all species that are native to the area such as roadrunners, rattlesnakes, and mule deer. You are allowed to wander off the trail and onto the lava, though you'll want to make sure you have proper footwear and are careful where you step. This is the perfect place to stop, take a hike on the nature trail, and have a picnic at the shelters.

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