Features & Fractures, El Malpais National Monument
One of the most famous features of El Malpais National Monument is the huge arch, which is one of the largest natural arches in New Mexico.
"Group of Tourists on the Edge"
While it is true that there only seem to be a small percentage of tourists that find their way here from the interstate highway, it is true that people do come here. I found the off-the-beaten-path atmosphere to be quite enjoyable.
"Trees Grow out of Rock Formations on Cliff"
While it is amazing enough that trees grow in a place with such little water available to them, it is even more amazing how well they survivie growing out of solid pieces of rock in such a dry climate. There is little moss or lichen here to help start the process.
"Highly Textured Rock Formation at Edge of Mesa"
A mesa (table in Spanish) is a high flat spot or plateu completely surrounded by steep cliffs. Imagine a very flat island surrounded by sky rather than water, and you start to get the picture of a mesa. It is a formation that is fairly unique to southwest North America. The edges of these mesas often have very interesting rock columns and other textured rock, such as this.
"A Different View of the Same Textured Rock"
"There is Some Water in this Landscape"
Despite the dry appearance, there is some water here. In fact, just up the road there is Bluewater Lake State Park.
Here there is no lake. However, there are one or two small puddles of water that have accumulated in depressions in the rock at the edge of the cliff.
"Another Pool of Water next to Cliff"
Perspective in photographs can be very deceiving. Here, the puddle of water looks quite large due to the tourist and the parking lot in the background. Yet, the fact is the plants you see here are quite tiny, as is the small body of water shown here.