NM – El Malpais- Sandstone Bluffs, The Narrows and La Ventana Arch

Conveniently located on Highway 117 just off Interstate 40 near Grants are three attractions worth a stop. You can easily spend a day or two exploring these areas. Be sure to stop at the El Malpais Ranger Station for maps and information.

Sandstone Bluffs

Mount Taylor dominates the skyline. 

The Chain of Craters, which I’d visited a few days earlier, is denoted on the left as Cerros (mountains in spanish).

Walking on this flat sandstone mesa is a pleasant contrast to the lava rock terrain I’d experienced on the Zumi-Acoma Trail

Beyond the views were nooks and crannies to be explored. 

Looking toward The Narrows mesa and the lava flow separating it from the Sandstone Bluffs mesa.

Talk about a bathtub with a view. 

THE Narrows or Narrows Rim Trail

I enjoyed the topography of the lava flow and seeing the Chain of Craters cinder cones from a different perspective.

This is called The Narrows as the lava flow stopped just short of this 3-mile long, 500-foot high escarpment, leaving a narrow corridor which naturally became a path of travel.  You can see the road below the rocks in this photo. 

The colorful rocks provided a stark contrast to the black lava field.

Look at those cracks and circular patterns.

You can see the forest beginning to take shape. Amazing anything can take root in these black crusted fields. 

Beyond the views, I enjoyed the sandstone sculptures and geologic features.

Caverns and crevasses warrant exploration. 

Finding nests and watching birds soar was another highlight. 

La Ventana Arch

This view is via a short trail along Highway 117. You can also begin or end your hike on the mesa of The Narrows Trail where a much different perspective of the arch is afforded. Without a second vehicle I didn’t have sufficient time to complete this as an out and back hike.

I was there at the wrong time of day for best viewing and photos.

Date(s) Hiked: March 9, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #19 out of 88

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