"El Malpais: Sandstone Bluffs Overlook" Grants Things to Do Tip by toonsarah
Grants Things to Do: 4 reviews and 11 photos
This was probably my favourite of the three stops we made in El Malpais. An easy drive on a gravel road (fine in a 2WD) leads you to a ridge of sandstone high above the lava flows. From here you have a magnificent view of the El Malpais lava flows below and the sweeping expanse of the landscape beyond. Standing here your feet are on 200-million year-old sandstone formed by ancient seas, while below you are the beds of much younger (3,000 year-old) lava that swept through and around the bluffs when McCartys Volcano erupted, and beyond lie the distant range around Mount Taylor.
There are no marked trails here, you simply park in the large parking lot and explore wherever you want to. We simply walked along the edge of the bluff to get a variety of views, but you can, if you don’t mind heights, walk further out on to the jutting peninsula of sandstone (see photo two). You need to be aware that there are no rails or walls here separating you from a very steep drop here, wherever you choose to walk. Don’t let children or dogs run around – in fact I wouldn’t recommend coming here with small children unless they are firmly contained in a buggy or carried securely.
Unfortunately the sun chose the moment of our arrival here to dip behind the late afternoon clouds, and showed no sign of revealing itself again. This made the landscape a little flatter than I would have liked in the photos, especially my panorama shot (photo three) which really doesn’t do justice to the amazing vista. Have a look at it though just the same please, as you can get a really good sense of the scale from the tiny figures on the outcrop on the right. In the distance in this photo you can see a range of mountains, with Mount Taylor towards the left-hand end of the range and Gallo Peak towards the right. Taylor was named for the 12th American President, Zachary Taylor. It is the highest point around here at 11,301 feet and is known as Kaweshtima to the Acoma people, who believe it to be the home of the Rainmaker of the North. Gallo is also known as Ram Peak by the Acoma and is 8,664 feet high.
Directions: Turn off Highway 117 on its west side a mile or so south of the Ranger Station (and about 10 miles south of I40)
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