El Malpais National Monument
Discover the land of fire and ice! The primeval black basalt terrain of El Malpais was created by volcanic forces over the past million years. Molten lava spread out over the high desert from dozens of eruptions to create cinder cones, shield volcanos, collapses, trenches, caves, and sandstone bluffs. This stark landscape preserves one of the best continuous geologic records of volcanism on the planet.
El Malpais has many lava tube caves open to explore (unguided) with a free caving permit, available at NPS-staffed facilities. There are currently four caves accessible by permit: Junction and Xenolith caves in the El Caldron area, and Big Skylight and Giant Ice caves in the Big Tubes area.
Wildlife abounds in the open grasslands and forests with numerous hiking trails.