"The (really rather lovely) Badlands" Grants by toonsarah

Grants Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 40 photos

Sandstone Bluffs, El Malpais National Monument

To be honest I can’t tell you much about Grants.

We used it as a base for our visit to nearby El Malpais National Monument, but as El Malpais doesn’t have a location page on VT, here we are! We did find good accommodation here, in the Best Western, and a surprisingly good meal in its restaurant, but apart from the motel strip we didn’t really explore the town, which on a quick late Sunday afternoon drive through, seemed very quiet with its few restaurants and shops closed.

El Malpais is Spanish for Badlands, and you can see how the area got this name, as much of it is formed from the outpourings of lava from McCartys Volcano. It is bleak in a way, but also ruggedly beautiful, and the view from Sandstone Bluffs is one that will stay with me for a long while.

The National Monument is divided into two sections, of which we only visited one – the one alongside Highway 117 more or less due south of Grants (the other lies to the west and is accessed via Highway 53). We were only there for an afternoon but that was long enough to do a couple of short walks and to drive up to the Sandstone Bluffs to see that awesome vista.

And to continue with us on our road trip through New Mexico, please visit my Acoma Pueblo page

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A convenient base for El Malpais, El Morro & Acoma
  • Cons:Not much to see or do in the town itself
  • Last visit to Grants: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (6)

Comments (8)

  • Mar 16, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Great pages! I finally checked out the El Malpais region, beautiful! Great pictures of La Ventana Arch

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Hello, Sarah! It's always a pleasure to read your insights! Have a nice stay in Bergamo!~ Greetings to everyone there! ><><><

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Feb 9, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    Fantastic scenery. Never heard of the place, so nice to hear about it from you!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Dec 3, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Amazing how the plants find a way to grow in an environment that looks to us just like lava and rocks.

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Nov 26, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    I really like the look of these Sandstone Bluffs! Awesome!

  • Nov 16, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    new mexico really looks like a state that i would like to explore. love the desert scenes, and the traditional architecture. greetings from the evergrowing belly from downunder :)

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    I thought the Badlands were in South Dakota, I have to go look that term up now :-) A nice continuation of your recent trip pages!

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Nov 9, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Oh wow, marvellous!! I never came that east when I was in Navajo land, but Grants is often featuring in Tony Hillerman's books. Mount Taylor is also one of the four sacred mountains of Navajo, called Dootl’izhiidziil or Turquoise Mountain. Love the Malpais, what a wonderful photo this is with the cliffs and the lonely two people up there. Would also love to do the tour to Sky City! And when it comes to good old baked beans in New Mexican cooking... health is a word I simply forget :-)


“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust (Joni Mitchell, "Amelia")”

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