Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,116.00 ft (340.16 m)
Trail type
17.60 mi (28.32 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail spans some 3,100 miles across 5 states from Mexico to Canada. The trail travels through the Rocky Mountains, exploring a vast array of different environments and landscapes along the way. The New Mexico portion of the trail features 820 miles of diverse hiking from the desolate Chihuahuan Desert in the south, to the unique Canyons of the Gila River, to the Rocky Mountains in the north. Exploring the Continental Divide Trail can be done as a single thru hike that will take 4-6 months, or by section hiking smaller segments. In this guide we’ll look at the El Malpais Road Walk and Narrows Alternate.

This alternate begins where the Pietown gravel road walk ends and meets up with Hwy 117, El Malpais Road. Turn right and follow the paved road. Alternatively, you can also access the Narrows via the Cebolla Alternate.

Continue walking the paved road until you reach the Narrows Trailhead. From here you’ll climb gradually and steadily as you continue on the enjoyable singletrack trail.

You’ll soon be met with great views down to the paved road below and across the volcanic landscape of El Malpais National Monument and to the Chain of Craters.

Enjoy as you walk high above on the rim of the Narrows, this is the highlight of this section.

The official trail will then end and you’ll need to find your way down off the Narrows. A steep but obvious user trail will lead you down and to La Ventana Arch.

After enjoying the arch, turn right and continue walking the paved road to the Acoma-Zuni Trailhead where you’ll again meet up with the official CDT route.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



The Narrows offer fantastic views across the National Monument. La Ventana Arch.


Paved road walk on El Malpais Road.

Trailhead Elevation

7,069.00 ft (2,154.63 m)

Highest point

7,515.00 ft (2,290.57 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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