West Malpais Wilderness
General Trip Planning Information
More information (brochures, maps, directions to trailheads, etc.) about the West Malpais Wilderness is available at the Rio Puerco Field office in Albuquerque, NM.
Information can also be accessed online via this website link: http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/wilderness_and_wsas/wilderness_areas/west_malpais.html
There are two visitor centers that serve the West Malpais Wilderness. The El Malpais Ranger station (505-280-2918) is located nine miles south of Interstate 40 on Hwy 117 (exit 89). The station is open from 8:30 to 4:30 daily. The second center is a multi-agency visitor center in Grants, NM (505-876-2783).
In general, the area offers opportunities for hiking, camping, horseback riding and wildlife viewing.
The West Malpais Wilderness is a landscape of volcanic lava flows, mostly flat, and encompasses three main ecotypes. The southeastern portion of the wilderness is a grassland with wide open expansive views. The western area is a piñon-juniper woodland. Ponderosa pine is prevalent in the northern portion of the Wilderness. The most distinctive landform within the West Malpais Wilderness is a 6,700-acre kipuka (a Hawaiian term meaning island of fertile ground) in the north part of the wilderness called Hole-In-The-Wall. Ponderosa pines are sprinkled through the grassland of the kipuka, which is ringed by a sea of broken, jagged basalt where ponderosa are plentiful. The Wilderness is located within the El Malpais National Conservation Area.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
There are no reliable water sources in Cebolla Wilderness or in the surrounding area. Visitors must carry all the water they will need for the duration of the trip.
Safety and Current Conditions
Dirt roads in this area can become very slick, sticky, and sometimes impassable during and after rain and snowfall. Check local weather information or contact the El Malpais Ranger station (505-280-2918) prior to travel. The multi-agency visitor center in Grants, NM, can also be contacted for weather information at 505-876-2783.