El Malpais National Monument is a National Monument located in western New Mexico, in the Southwestern United States. The name El Malpais is from the Spanish term Malpaís, meaning badlands, due to the extremely barren and dramatic volcanic field that covers much of the park's area.
The El Malpais is part of the Zuni-Bandera volcanic field, the second largest volcanic field in the Basin and Range Province. The rugged Pahoehoe lava flow filled a large basin rimmed by higher sandstone bluffs, now large wind and water rounded and lighter colored contrasting landforms that surround much of the darker malpais. The park has many inactive volcanoes, some potentially active volcanoes, and in the area geothermal activity.
El Malpais has many lava tube caves previously open to explore, but as of 6 December 2010 are now closed to recreational use. The La Ventana Arch is an easily accessible huge sandstone natural arch. A scenic overlook on the park's eastern high bluffs have panoramic views over the El Malpais lava field.
A hiking trail leads from the Narrows picnic area leads to the rim of the mesa bluffs and another panoramic view. The Cerro Encierro is a hill with hiking and climbing routes that provide more spectacular views. Where the terrain is predominantly bedrock and large rock formations trails cannot be defined in the usual ways, so sequences of stone cairns are used to indicate the route.