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The Badlands of El Malpais

We started our trip through the American West in Albuquerque, traveling west to El Malpais National Monument before ending the day in Zuni country.
People looking out over El Malpais lava field
The floor is lava!

After an early morning of air travel, we landed at ABQ and drove the rental car to the highly recommended Laguna Burger for lunch. It's a greasy spoon in a gas station on Route 66, so the decor is heavy on the Route 66 theme. Laguna Burger is known for using chilis and fresh meat, and it did not disappoint.
All the merchandise prices should end in 66 cents.


El Malpais
El Malpais translates to "The bad land," and it's not hard to see why: it is home to an expansive lava field that's difficult to cross.
View of the lava field from the cliffs
It's beautiful country. Coal black lava flows between Navajo and Acoma land, while sage green foliage crashes into rusty golden limestone cliffs dotted with olive green shrubs under a crisp blue sky.

In case it needs to be said, falling from cliffs should be avoided.
Up on the cliffs, ancient winds and waters have worn out pools in the rock so deep a child can stand inside and not see out.
Following the park road, we drove to La Ventana, "The Window", a natural arch formed from limestone.
La Ventana

That's just bad hole placement
Heavy with the scent of juniper, the cool breeze provided relief from the warm, almost kiln-dried, sunshine.
Looks like the road goes right into the cliff
We departed from El Malpais and drove westward to the Zuni Pueblo for tonight's accommodation. Tomorrow, we'll be driving through Zuni country on our way to spend a couple of days at Grand Canyon National Park.

« Trip Summary: American Southwest - Tomorrow: Driving through Zuni country »

Trip Summary: American Southwest

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