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West Malpais Wilderness

Contact Info
Bureau of Land Management
Albuquerqe District Office
435 Montano NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107



BLM's West Malpais Wilderness, part of the El Malpais National Conservation Area, totals about 40,000 acres. It encompasses grassland, pinon-juniper woodland, ponderosa pine parkland, and basalt lava fields. A myriad of trees, shrubs, mammals, reptiles, grasses, fungi and other creatures make this area their home.These life forms interact with and influence one another, manifesting the gossamer web of life in this harsh, dry environment. Lichen slowly dissolves rock, drawing sustenance from stone. This process provides new soil and a toehold for new plant growth. Antelope, deer, rabbits, and squirrels forage for these plants and scarce water, and occasionally their struggle for existence is ended by the crush of a coyote's bite or the talons of a redtailed hawk. Lightning-caused wildfires sweep through areas, destroying some plants, while releasing vital nutrients for others and opening up new niches in which life may begin anew.The presence of humans is in evidence also. The ancestors of today's American Indians and modern day ranchers and homesteaders have influenced and interacted within this ever-changing community of life.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions

The West Malpais Wilderness is located south of Grants, NM, and is within El Malpais National Conservation Area (NCA). The easier driving route to access the West Malpais Wilderness and Hole-In-The-Wall is from the south end of the NCA off NM 117. Drive south on NM 117 from I-40 until you reach County Road 42, also known as the Chain of Craters Back Country Byway. County Road 42 begins approximately 35 miles from the NM 117 turn-off from I-40. From NM 117, proceed northwest on County Road 42 for approximately 2.1 miles. Take the right fork to the north and go approximately five miles up the ¿cherry stem¿ road to the West Malpais Wilderness trail-head.Hole-in-the-Wall and the interior of the West Malpais Wilderness are accessed from the north by turning south from NM 53 onto County Road 42. Contact the BLM ranger station on NM 117 or Northwest NM Visitor Center in Grants for further information.

Customizable Directions

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