|A glimpse below the surface into the geologic process that shaped this land. Lava flowed through these tubes for miles.|
|You literally get a feel for how jagged the rock when you have to use your hands to make your way down the trail|
|At Seven Bridges, the roof of a lava tube collapsed leaving a long trench with arching bridges of rock.|
|Ponderosa pines tower above Still Waters on the graceful bridges.|
|Could this be a checkered white (Pieris protodice)?|
|What's a doug-fir doing out here?|
We took time to climb down to Four Windows Cave.
|Exploring the entrance of Four Windows Cave requires bouldering to get down under the holes in the ceiling of the tube.|
|What an odd feeling to see trees growing above you.|
|A patch of moss near the snow holds an entire community of life.|
Stop by the El Malpais Information Center to get your free caving permit.
Bring a copy of the NPS brochure “Hiking the Big Tubes” and guides/maps to Big Skylight Cave or Giant Ice Cave.
Driving here involves 8.5 miles on dirt roads. During certain times of year, the road may be completely impassible or require high clearance and 4WD. Thank you again, Still Waters, for bringing your truck to get us out there!
The trail itself is well marked with rock cairns and signed at junctions. Travel over the lava is rough, and lave will eat your shoes. Allow extra time to explore.
If you decide to go into the caves, you must stop by the ranger station and get a free permit. Cave softly— pack out all trash, respect cave closures, and carry proper equipment (including extra headlamps and a helmet). Gloves protect hands from the sharp basalt while bouldering into the lava tubes.