"Sandstone Bluffs Overlook" by NPS/Maci MacPherson , public domain

El Malpais

Hiking the Big Tubes

brochure El Malpais - Hiking the Big Tubes
National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior El Malpais National Monument David Hays 2012 Hiking the Big Tubes Area The Big Tubes Area offers first hand exploration of a rugged volcanic landscape. A lava wall, lava bridges, collapses, and lava tube caves can be seen in this harsh land of beauty and mystery. Exploring the Big Tubes Area To get to the Big Tubes Area, take County Road 42 to the Big Tubes Road (NPS Road #300) and travel 4.5 miles to the parking area. Although normally accessible in a passenger car, these roads can be impassable during wet weather, even in four-wheeldrive vehicles. Please check road conditions before venturing to this area. From the parking area, a cairn-marked route leads you over a portion of the Bandera Lava Flow. These rock cairns can be difficult to see. Be sure to keep the cairn route in sight at all times. Allow yourself plenty of daylight to enjoy your exploration. The surface trail is approximately 2 miles. If you hike the whole trail, plan on spending at least 4 hours. Cave Permits Safety • Tell someone when you will return. • Know your limits: At 7500’ (2300 m) the area can be very hot & dry or cold & wet. • Footing can be difficult and lava is sharp. Equipment • Plenty of water and a snack • Sturdy hiking shoes; no sandals! • Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen • Rugged GPS handheld device • First aid kit GPS Coordinates Know how to use your GPS unit before you begin this hike, as the trail can be difficult to follow and your GPS may save your life. From the trail, the parking area is to the west towards the low rise of Cerro Rendija. Parking Area Latitude 34° 56’ 40.5”N Longitude 108° 6’ 24.8”W Sign Junction (see map) Latitude 34° 56’ 42.6”N Longitude 108° 6’ 5.6”W Several caves in the Big Tubes Area can be explored if you have a caving permit, available for free at the El Malpais Information Center, approximately 23 miles southwest of Grants on NM Highway 53; or at the Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center, 1900 E Santa Fe Ave in Grants. Caves may be closed seasonally or yearround if they are hazardous, contain delicate rock formations, or house colonies of bats. Before you go caving, you must first talk with a ranger for the latest caving information and a free caving permit. Trail Map va Ca Coterp lla illa ps r e La Trench Wilderness To County Rd. 42 & Highway 53 Lava Tr en ch d. es R 0) Tub Big Rd. #30 (NPS Flo w Si Cro gn ss Ju ing nc Su tio rfa ce n Tu be Douglas Firs La va Tr en ch N Bandera Crater & Lava Flow ge id Br Bi va Wilderness Cairns may be difficult to find. Do not leave one cairn until you see the next. Four Windows Junction La *5 Rock cairn Giant Ice Cave Big Skylight Cave A’ a Caution g Tu As be pe s T r n Tr ailh ee ea s d ! 0.5 Miles Approximately 10,000 years ago, magma broke through the Earth’s crust just a few miles north of the Big Tubes Area. Under great pressure, the liquid rock burst into the air to form a lava fountain sometimes hundreds of feet high. Some of the lava cooled and separated in the air, falling to the ground as cinders which accumulated and built Bandera Crater. Hot, fluid lava flowed from the base of this loosely structured cinder cone in a series of flows that lasted for several years. Confined by channels of older lava, these “lava rivers” flowed to the south and east, skirting the Seven Bridges Overlook southern edge of the Zuni Mountains before spreading out over the large basin south of Grants, New Mexico. As the outer layer of the lava flows cooled and hardened, it insulated the fluid lava flowing within. Eventually, the lava ceased flowing, with the hot fluid lava emptying downhill and leaving behind vast lava tube caves. The result of this process is a seventeen-mile-long lava tube system, one of the longest in the Continental United States. The lava tube caves and collapses in the Big Tubes Area are part of this system. Wilderness Most of El Malpais National Monument has been proposed for wilderness designation. Lack of developement in this primitive environment provides a remote, quiet, and awe-inspiring wilderness experience. You can help maintain this area by understanding wilderness “Leave No Trace” ethics. Leave No Trace • Pack out everything you pack in. • Leave all natural, cultural and historical objects as you find them. • Tread lightly and leave no trace of your visit; pick up any trash you find. • Respect wildlife and never feed animals. More Information Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center 1900 E Santa Fe Ave Grants, New Mexico, 87020 505 783-4774 or 505-876-2783 www.nps.gov/elma EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA™

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