el malpais nat’l monument, nm

La Ventana Natural Arch is one of NM’s largest – notice profile of face to leftEl Malpais: the badlands of central-west New Mexico offer sharp lava rocks covering a 40-mile valley sided by smooth sandstone bluffs, just east of the Continental Divide.  The McCartys Crater poured lava 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, making the valley all but uninhabitable.  Sandwiched between Navajo and Acoma reservations, the badlands reached peak occupation between 950-1350 AD, with ancient trails and lava tube cave systems (one up to 17 miles long), crisscrossing it.  Homesteading increased in the 1930’s, with families of sheepherders try to eke out a living during the Great Depression.  As always, New Mexico amazes.  [please hover over images for captions]

About Ben

Ben Batchelder has traveled some of the world's most remote roads. Nothing in his background, from a degree in Visual & Environmental Studies at Harvard to an MBA from Wharton, adequately prepared him for the experiences. Yet he persists, for through such journeys life unfolds. Having published four books that map the inner and exterior geographies of meaningful travel, he is a mountain man in Minas Gerais, Brazil who comes down to the sea at Miami Beach, Florida. His second travel yarn, To Belém & Back, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. For more, visit www.benbatchelder.com.