El Malpais, New Mexico

Encyclopedia Article


El Malpais (meaning "The Badlands" in Spanish) is a large area covered in lava flow from the now-extinct volcanoes of the San Mateo and Zuni mountains, stretching across approximately 35 miles of terrain south of Grants, NM. The Spanish name refers to the rugged, rocky, harsh nature of this terrain of lava beds, tubes, and caves. The El Malpais National Monument and National Conservation Area are located in this region. According to the Navajo creation myth, the Twin War Gods slayed the monster Yé'iitsoh (Big God) on nearby Mount Taylor, and it was his blood, running down the mountain, that coagulated and solidified to form the black lava flows of El Malpais. Following the legend, the Navajo call the area "Where Big God's Blood Coagulated."

Photo Credit: 

"El Malpais Lava Flow, September 26, 2014" is licensed under Public Domain.

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