Valley Of Fires Recreation Area - Malpais Lava Flows

The Valley of Fires recreation area is located immediately adjacent to the Malpais Lava Flow just outside of Carrizozo. Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin, filling the basin with molten rock. The resulting lava flow is four to six miles wide, 160 feet thick and covers 125 square miles. The lava flow is considered to be one of the youngest lava flows in the continental United States.

Hearty winds when I arrived and they only became stronger as the afternoon worn on. Two or three RV’s in the big sites and about that many tents in the walk-in area. Picked what I thought the best of the pull-in sites although the tent sites offered better wind protection. The short paved Malpais Nature Trail essentially the only official hiking in the area although there were no restrictions for taking off cross-country. There is even supposedly a 4 mile semi-path to Little Black Peak. After attempting that and another short excursion, gave up on any bushwhacking. My grandparents lived in the area and had stories about how brutal it was trying to get through the flows. Think he understated the issue. One day spent here was about the right time frame.

Click images to view trip report details.

Trip report image
USGS flow link image