It is less heard, less seen. The Valley of Fires Recreation Area in Carrizozo, New Mexico has never been in my travel radar. Not so many travel websites wrote about it. Not even the few popular New Mexico Instagram accounts have posted photos of it. I only found out about the Valley of Fires after I checked a map of New Mexico’s public lands. I was curious, so I googled.

Here is what the Bureau of Land Management described the Valley of Fires:

Valley of Fires recreation area is located immediately adjacent to the Malpais Lava Flow. Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin, filling the basin with molten rock. The resulting lava flow is four to six miles wide, 160 feet thick and covers 125 square miles. The lava flow is considered to be one of the youngest lava flows in the continental United States.

From a distance, Valley of Fires appears as barren rock but when you walk through the nature trail there are many varieties of flowers, cactus, trees and bushes typical of the Chihuahuan desert. Animals 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.

One Saturday, I decided to drive to see the Valley of Fires.  It was a 2-hour drive via US-70 and US-54. If you are using a GPS, use the keywords “Valley of Fires Recreation Area” to search its location.

Valley of Fires

Available shelters.

I noticed immediately that there were a number of picnic shelters on the hills, complete with tables and grills. In fact, few people were there, camping.


Follow the trail.

Looking down below from the shelters was a blackish region that seemed to extend to the horizon. There was also a paved winding trail. I counted the visitors that time…less than ten of us.

Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Be informed.

Before starting the trail, read the information about the different colors of rocks you would find along the way.


Wherever I looked, everything was black.

Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Bats live there.

There were large hollow places called bubbles caused by the cooling of the lava. These bubbles provided a perfect place bats to live.

Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Various plant species thrived in the area as well.

Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Take a selfie.

This Juniper tree is about 400 years old. A bench was placed for resting and, sure, for photo-taking.
Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Resting points.

There were resting sheds along the trail, in case you just wanna spend more time staring at the rocks.
Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Support the recreation area.

Before you leave the area, visit the bookstore and learn more about the Valley of Fires. Buy some postcards and souvenir t-shirts.
Valley of Fires Recreation Area

The Valley of Fires may not be as grand as the Grand Canyon or as jaw-dropping as the White Sands, but it has its own charm that’s worth seeing at least once in your life.

Travel Contact.

Address: 6158 US Highway 380, Carrizozo, NM 88301
Telephone Number: (575) 648-2241


– There are RV electric hookups
– Facilities include a bathroom with showers
– Vault toilets are available throughout the park

Entrance Fees.

Day Use – one person in vehicle, $3.00.
Day Use – two or more in vehicle, $5.00.
Tent Camping – $7.00
Camping – with Electric, $18.00.
Camping – without Electric, $12.00.
Group Shelter – group use, $25.00.
Dump Fee – $15.00
Tour Bus – 15 or more persons on board, $15.00.

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See more of my New Mexico travels.

See also: My other travel adventures.