Approaching the El Mapais Visitor Center I was intrigued by the lava rock I was seeing everywhere in the foreground of what looked very much like the Badlands in South Dakota. Well, that's interesting! After speaking with the ranger, I learned that El Mapais in spanish means "Badlands". So, Coronado thought the same thing as the Sioux in South Dakota..."Yeah, they're kinda bad lands to travel through". What sets El Mapais apart from their bad brother to the north, is that they are surrounded by 30 volcanoes! Yes, you heard me correctly gentle reader; 30. None of them are active but it certainly accounts for all the lava rock and tubes you see in the landscape. To say that it looks bizarre is an understatement.
I went for a hike among the lava rocks and wished there would have been more time to explore further into the park. Another time perhaps. Here's another weird feature of the park. Because early volcanic science was learned in Hawaii, the different types of lava flows in the park have Hawaiian names. If you're looking for an environment that makes your brain go "huh, what am I seeing?"; this is your monument.
Sorry my phone was dead so I didn't get any other pics. Guess the bad roads jostled the plug out of the lighter socket.