La Ventana Natural Arch

Useful Information

Location: El Malpais National Monument.
(34.869246, -107.888919)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: GeologyNatural Bridge
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: La Ventana Natural Arch, El Malpais National Conservation Area, PO Box 846, Grants, NM 87020, Tel: +1-505-280-2918.
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1987 El Malpais National Conservation Area (NCA) established to protect nationally significant geological, archaeological, ecological, cultural, scenic, scientific, and wilderness resources surrounding the Zuni-Bandera volcanic field.


La Ventana Natural Arch is located in El Malpais National Monument. El Malpais translates to "the badlands" in Spanish, the name originates from the time when New Mexico was actually Mexican. At the end of the Méxican–American War in 1848, the U.S. annexed New México. Many arid or semi-arid areas in the rain shadow of the rocky mountains are called badlands, in this case it's not only a result of the lack of rain but also the geology. Most of the National Monument is volcanic and covered by lava flows with lava tubes and stratovolcanoes.

But in the east the great lava plain is bordered by a long escarpment of buff-coloured Dakota sandstone. The cliffs of the escarpment are up to 120 m high. Highway 117 runs along the escarpment, sometimes above, and sometimes below. Visitor Center for this part of the park is El Malpais Ranger Station (BLM), located at this road. The two most spectacular sight are the Sandstone Bluffs outlook, and the La Ventana Natural Arch, one of the hundreds sandstone arches in the U.S.A.

La Ventana Natural Arch is a so-called Cliff Wall Arch, which are adjacent to rock walls or cliffs. It is located right in front of the wall of the escarpment, and so it harder to spot than a free-standing arch.