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.
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.
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.
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.
Various plant species thrived in the area as well.
Take a selfie.
Support the 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.
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
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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Will you travel and visit the Valley of Fires Recreation Area?
See more of my New Mexico travels.
See also: My other travel adventures.