Winter is officially over, so I am starting a new page for Spring hikes.  The weather is definitely heating up so April will probably be the end of the desert hiking season.  Then it will be time for higher elevations and the mountains.

White Mesa is a gorgeous area not far northwest of Albuquerque.  A land of yellow/gold sandstone, red/purple clays, and white gypsum.  It also has a couple of sinkholes on top of hills and several springs or seeps that leach gypsum salts out of the ground.  A wonderland of geological features.

The area is officially known as the "White Mesa Bike Trails" but hikers are welcome.  We were not passed by a single biker during our hike.  There were some trail sections that were hard to walk/stumble up and down, let alone trying to do it on a bike!

The second hike was in the El Malpais National Monument, 95 miles west of Albuquerque.  "Malpais" is Spanish for "bad country" or badlands.  Most of the monument is a huge lava flow area, the most recent flow only 4,000 years old.

We hiked the Narrows Rim Trail that follows a sandstone bluff for several miles overlooking the lava.  Nice views, but large expanses of dark lava are hard to photograph!  There is quite a lot of vegetation growing on the flows now.

On the drive back we stopped at La Ventana Arch, one of the biggest arches in New Mexico.  It was a bit of a scramble to get high enough under the arch to see blue sky in the opening.

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