The Valley of Fires in Carrizozo, New Mexico is one of the youngest lava flows in the continental United States. Visit this National Recreation Area to explore the hardened lava fields!
Do you spend much time exploring Google Earth?
But my husband-- he loves it.
Not so long ago, while he was planning a road trip to White Sands National Park in New Mexico, he started exploring satellite images in the area.
And that's when he saw something odd.
Near the white gypsum sand from White Sands, he saw something else. A dark spot on the map.
And he got curious.
About an hour north of White Sands is the Valley of Fires in Carrizozo, New Mexico.
The Valley of Fires is a National Recreation Area where you can explore one of the youngest lava flows in the continental United States.
The site is right next to the Malpais Lava Flow National Monument, so if you're fascinated by lava flows, you can explore both sites!
Valley of Fires Entrance Fee
When you arrive at the park, stop at the visitor's center to pay the entry fee. It's $3-$5 per car, depending on how many people are in your car.
Instead of paying the entry fee for this park, we opted to buy a US National Parks Pass at the visitor center, since this was the first stop on our national parks road trip.
Malpais Nature Trail
Next, check out the paved nature trail. It's a mile long, and you can look at the plants and lava without leaving the trail.
You can also read about how tarantula spiders like to burrow in the lava flows. Oh the horror.
For the record, we did not see any tarantulas.
Valley of Fires: Walking on Lava
The really cool thing about the Valley of Fires is that you can walk off the paved trail right out onto the hardened lava.
Walk on the lava, check out the plants, and dodge the tarantulas.
It's an adventure!
Even though you're not really going on a hike on the lava fields, I do recommend wearing hiking boots (or shoes with excellent tread). The hardened lava terrain is fairly uneven, and falling on it would hurt.
Because the lava field is direct sun with zero shade, you might also want a hat. I was happy that I had one of my roll-up straw sun visors.
Need hiking boots? Check out my picks for the best women's hiking shoes and boots.
This little adventure in New Mexico was a perfect way to stretch our legs as we drove through the desert.