Located Four miles west of the Town of Carrizozo NM on US hwy 380
Valley of Fires recreation area is located immediately adjacent to the Malpais Lava Flow. Malpaís is a Spanish term for rough and barren landscape that consists of largely uneroded lava fields, volcanic cones, and other volcanic landforms. As you look west across the Tularosa Basin, Malpias dominate the view.
Thousands of years ago, lava spewed from vents at the northern end of the flow and traveled 44 miles along the floor of the Tularosa Basin. Little Black Peak to the North is one of the origins of the lava flow here. There is evidence of an explosive eruption and some intact lava tubes that radiate out from Little Black Peak. The lava here is quite interesting and well preserved, there are lava caves, pressure ridges, rough lava blocks, and smooth ropy lava flows.
Malpais Nature Trail is a less than a mile long and loops through the lava flow. You will find many varieties of flowers, cactus, trees and bushes, including an ancient cedar tree growing from the lava flow.
Some of the animals that live here include bats, roadrunners, quail, cottontails, mule deer, barberry sheep, and lizards. It's also a virtual birdwatcher's paradise with great horned owls, burrowing owls, turkey vultures, hawks, gnat catchers, cactus wrens, sparrows and golden eagles.
The lava here is quite interesting and well preserved, there are lava caves, pressure ridges, rough lava blocks, and smooth ropy lava flows.
Prehistoric humans lived in this area, bits of pottery and stone tools have been found here. I will link to my video about Three Rivers Petroglyphs that talks a bit more about the rock art found in the Tularosa Basin.
Molten hot rock from the core of the earth has found its way to the surface here and I find this to be a sacred place with grounding energy surrounded by the open expansive peacefulness of the desert that is so appealing to me. Georgia O'Keeffe referred to the desert landscape at the “ Far Away” and that’s how I feel when I am here.
These prehistoric spiky plants that dot the landscape are seen throughout the southwest. Yuccas are members of the lily family and there are more than 40 species.
Yucca roots were traditionally used for soap. The leaves and roots of this plant are edible and have been used to make many things including baskets and shoes.
You might not take much notice of these plants…… Until you have seen them in bloom!!
These bell-shaped blooms emit a delicate, sweet fragrance which lures the Yucca’s sole pollinator, the yucca moth. Each species of Yucca plant is pollinated by a different species of yucca moth uniquely suited to collect pollen from its Yucca plant. Also known as “lamps of the Lord.” Their bright, upwardly reaching flowers seem to point heavenward and illuminate the nighttime desert. The Yucca Bloom In late spring, early summer. In Carrizozo where these the Yucca bloom in mid - May. These magnificent blooms last only a couple of weeks, so plan ahead.
If you plan to visit this area the Tularosa Basin has a lot of great areas to explore. You can just see White Sands National Park in the distance of this Photo taken from the top of Ski Apache in Ruidoso N.M If you are coming to southern New Mexico make sure you add Valley of The Fires Recreational Area to your trip. There’s a great campground with a super view. And if you are looking for solitude you will find it here!