Wednesday, May 16, 2012

El Malpais (pronounced el mal py ees) means bad land. Everywhere in the area, roadsides, fields, in town, people’s yards, is evidence of this unfriendly looking lava rock. After learning that this rim of volcanoes spewed the stuff  about a  million years ago, we were not sure what to expect in a National Monument that has seen fit to protect an area with lava so sharp and jagged, it will cut your boots to ribbons if you hike on it for any distance.

Beauty is everywhere and our first stop was the Sand Bluffs. You can see the patches of black lava in the distance so thick, plants haven’t been able to grow in it.

Since rock climbing and taking pictures is one of our favorite things to do, we thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the Sand Bluffs, said to have been underwater 138 million years ago. Kind of tough to wrap your mind around that many years past.

We climbed all over the rocks, taking pictures and meeting one view after another.

Little catch basins everywhere gave evidence of how the rocks hold water for birds and wildlife. All were dry at this time of year

In a crevice, a stunted pine has found enough nutrients to hang on to life.

We climbed all over the bluffs for a couple of hours.

In another section of the conservation area is second ridge of cliffs that have a beautiful arch. We drove over to see it.

The scenic drive showed multiple layers of rock of different types, making for a colorful show.

We hiked the short distance in to the arch on this beautiful day. It’s a beauty.

Other beauties revealed themselves on the walk.

A rock so beautifully colored, you don’t believe your eyes.

The bright green of new growth on a young pine.

I spotted a second arch nearby. Not as beautiful as El Ventana, which is Spanish for window.

At the Lava Narrows, we got a close look at the lava, but it is pretty boring stuff after the gorgeous scenery we passed to get there. It has a shady picnic area and we stopped for some refreshments before returning to the Motor Home. There is no camping here, but visitors can  hike into the canyons and ridges and most likely find lovely spots that drive-in visitors like us missed. It was a lovely day.

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