El Malpais NM--Sandstone Bluffs

About this Location

Sandstone Bluffs offers one of the few overlooks within all of El Malpais National Monument. Every direction you turn gives you a different view with a different feature to observe. Below the bluffs are the lava flows of El Malpais. To the north is a dramatic view of Mount Taylor. Below your feet is Dakota Sandstone that contrasts with the dark lava flows farther below where you stand. If you enjoy sweeping vistas, Sandstone Bluffs is the place to be for a sunset or a cloudless afternoon.

The area also has pit toilets and picnic tables available. Please dispose of trash and recyclables in the appropriate bins. Although the main viewing platform at Sandstone Bluffs is accessible, it may be tricky with particular wheelchairs or power scooters.

About El Malpais National Monument

See all hotspots at El Malpais National Monument

Nick-named “the badlands” by Spanish explorers as they detoured around forbidding and unrelenting flows of basalt, El Malpais National Monument is home to one of the most complete sequences of lava flows in the country. Preserved within this harsh yet starkly beautiful landscape are many lava tube cave systems, cinder cones, spatter cones, and other intriguing volcanic features. Exploring this surreal region can be done via scenic drives, overlooks, and short trails. For a more immersive experience in the volcanic mysteries of El Malpais, rugged backcountry and lava tube caves are yours to explore.

Great birdwatching sites along NM-117 include Sandstone Bluffs, La Ventana Natural Arch, and Narrows Picnic Areas. NM-53 on the west side of the monument offers access to the El Calderon area, Zuni-Acoma Trail, and County Road 42. Summer monsoons create vernal, or seasonal, ponds along roadsides that attract visitors such as great blue herons. Always be aware of your surroundings while bird watching.

Content from El Malpais National Monument Official Website