El Malpais National Monument

Twenty Three

I loved visiting Chaco Canyon, but it's not the only national park in New Mexico. After resting for a day and exploring Albuquerque, I headed out to El Malpais National Monument, near Grants, New Mexico. I had decided to earn a Junior Ranger badge there. To start, we headed to Sandstone Bluffs. In this photo, I'm up on the bluff looking down over the lava flows below. Many, many years ago, volcanoes in this area spewed big rivers of lava all over the land. Now, the lava has dried to black rock and you can climb on it if you're careful.

Twenty five

At Sandstone Bluffs, there are beautiful little depressions in the rock. They're called tinajas. I peeked into one and it was full of tadpoles! When it rains, the tinajas fill with water and become tiny water ecosystems.

Twenty nine

The Sandstone Bluffs are rocky and beautiful- they look like a moonscape. Actually, they reminded me of my trip to Canyonlands National Park a few years ago. Both are great places to pretend to be a cosmonaut.

Thirty five

After the Sandstone Bluffs, we stopped by La Ventana Arch. My friends in Utah will probably think it's not too impressive, but I was happy to find it all the same. The arch was slowly carved out by wind and water over geologic time. Awesome!

Thirty six

Finally, we stopped by the ranger station so that I could turn in my workbook and earn my second New Mexican Junior Ranger badge. El Malpais is a beautiful park! I want to come back someday and explore the lava tube caves. Sadly, they were closed this year because the bats that live in the caves have a disease which humans spread.

So that was my trip to New Mexico- one cultural park and one natural park! This weekend, in honor of our nation's veterans, all National Parks will have free admission. If you've never explored one before, this is a great opportunity.

To learn more about El Malpais, visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/elma.

No comments