Wednesday, March 30, 2011

La Ventana Arch

La Ventana Arch is New Mexico’s second largest natural arch with a span of 135 feet. The short 0.5 mile round trip trail is 18 miles south of I-40 on New Mexico route 117 on the east side of El Malpais National Monument in northwest New Mexico.

At the trailhead there is an interpretive sign that shows a map of the area that includes the El Malpais National Monument and the adjacent Conservation Area and the Cebolla Wilderness.

The afternoon light strikes the arch formation directly. There is a note at the trail head to wear sturdy shoes for the steep and rocky segment of the trail, but that segment directly below the arch is closed.

A short distance down the trail is another interpretive sign that discusses the formation of the Zuni sandstone layer and the processes that formed La Ventana Arch. The arch is on the north side of an inlet in the sandstone cliffs. The floor area in front of the arch has Pinon Pines and Juniper trees with open areas of grasses and shrubs. For energetic hikers, the 4 mile Narrows Rim Trail ends on the cliffs across from La Ventana Arch.

The viewing area below La Ventana is fenced and the area beyond is closed, so no blue sky angle is available.

This short hike only takes about 0:20 minutes. There are several other hiking opportunities in this part of the El Malpais area.

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