Visiting el Malpais National Monument

One of our favorite day trips is to el Malpais National Monument. Winter is the perfect time of year to hike the sandstone bluffs and lava fields without danger of cooking doggie paws (hiking black lava in summer can be deadly). The skies are New Mexico outrageous blue, the views are vast and incredible, and we always have a wildlife encounter or two. One year we enjoyed watching a huge herd of elk crossing the highway, along with a surprise black bear showing at one of the trailheads! Today, February 12, pinyon jays seemed to be our only wildlife discovery. But these noisy and very social birds are always a treat.

The first two photos are of sketches I did in the field, and completed at home. The sandstone monolith, named la Vieja (the old woman) is a landmark seen for several miles along the scenic drive through the monument. It also makes a nice backdrop on one of our favorite hikes. The second sketch, la Ventana (the window) Arch is a short hike into one of the many canyons in the park, and is one of the largest natural arches in New Mexico.

Finally, my journal entries of the day’s adventure had to include few sketches of pinyon jays.

Thanks for coming along!

La Ventana
Pinyon Jays


  1. memnona says:

    Fabulous, entire work is so interesting and beautiful. Thank you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so very much, Aga!


  2. sgoodman56 says:

    What a wonderful day trip, Barb! Love everything about your entry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Susan! Always a fun destination.


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