The El Malpais National Conservation Area consists of 263,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to the El Mapalpais National Monument. While the national monument largely consists of basalt flows, the conservation area is more varied with canyons, sandstone bluffs, and volcanic peaks.
La Ventana Arch
The second-largest natural arch in New Mexico, La Ventana Arch is the most well-known feature in the conservation area. It’s easily accessible from the paved highway and a well-maintained walking path.
Scenery and Wilderness
The El Malpais National Conservation Area is incredibly rugged and scenic, and includes two designated wilderness areas.
Historic and Prehistoric Sites
An important function of the conservation area is to preserve and protect the significant cultural sites within the boundaries. One site in particular is a well-known pueblo that was partially excavated years ago. The El Malpais visitor center has more information and printed literature. Locating the site involves cross-country navigation skills as there is no hiking trail.
Of course all archaeological sites on B.L.M. land are protected by federal law.
Historic sites, mostly homestead ranches, are also scattered throughout the property.
Evidence of past industrial use is also evident, such as this lava rock quarry site.