El Malpais National Conservation Area is within El Malpais National Monument via I-40 exit 89 (CR 117) or I-40 exit 81 (CR 53). Encompassing 231,230 acres of public lands, the conservation area offers numerous recreational opportunities, including hiking, mountain biking, primitive camping, cave exploration (bring your own equipment) and horseback riding.
Marked trails traversing designated wilderness areas explore the region's natural features. The Armijo Canyon Trail is a sandy trek that winds among piñon pine and juniper trees. The La Ventana Arch Trail passes dramatic sandstone cliff formations and offers a good view of La Ventana Natural Arch; this impressive geological formation is New Mexico's second tallest arch.
The Bureau of Land Management Ranger Station, 9 miles south of I-40 exit 89 via CR 117, contains exhibits about the historical and cultural aspects of El Malpais and has information about the region's natural history, geology and indigenous animals and plants. A short hiking trail beginning at the parking area leads to impressive vistas of the surrounding countryside.
Pet friendly (call for restrictions/fees.). Recreational activities are permitted. Picnicking is permitted.