Acoma – Zuni West

Acoma – Zuni West Hike
In El Malpais Region

Map File Source: NG Topo

map Hike Key: H10143
Last Updated: 12/15/2020 12:00am
Last Updated By: Marilyn Warrant
Hike Class: C (Challenging)
Hike Distance: 8.2 mi
Minimum Elevation: 6835 ft
Elevation Change: 100 ft
Total Uphill: 105 ft
Total Downhill: 105 ft
Avg. Grade: 1 %
Route Type: InOut
On Trail: No
Paved or Gravel Roads: Yes
GPS Advised: Yes
Drive Distance Round Trip: 180 mi
Drive Time One-Way: 2:00
Hiking Seasons: Spring, Fall, and Winter
New Mexico Game Unit: 13
Hike Status: Published
Access Description: El Malpais North Access


Part of an ancient route that connects the pueblos of Acoma and Zuni across the lava flow area of El Malpais National Monument.


Difficult walking on lava rock; trekking poles, leather gloves, long pants, and sturdy boots extremely helpful.

Trailhead Directions

I-40 west to exit 81 at Grants. Go south on SR 53 about 15 miles (now going west, past a gravel operation on right and MP 70) to PARK on left at the Acoma-Zuni West trailhead. Note that first milepost on SR 53 at I-40 is mile post 85.

Actual Hike

At the beginning of the hike, the trail crosses over a lava chasm that might very well be the most interesting part of the hike. You will pass areas of level soft, sandy ground then come upon areas of very rough lava. Not a hike for people who are clumsy. Walking sticks are almost a must to maintain at least two points of contact with the ground at all times. We find signposts: “Escalante Trail” which must be synonymous with Acoma-Zuni Trail. Also the Continental Divide Trail follows the same trail according to the brochure. Hike to the MID POINT (4.1 mi), then return. To reduce the difficulty of the hike, stop before the mid point.


The trail is dangerous if you do not watch for the next stone pile (cairn) before proceeding because there is really no trail and it would be easy to become hopelessly lost except you might possibly navigate back if you always keep aware of the surrounding mountains. The lava rock is sharp if you fall. Wearing gloves is a good idea. Aside from those precautions, this is a wonderful place with many surprising rock forms and chasms that you either hop across or cross on a “bridge” made of stones thrown down in there until they piled up to the surface. Not many years ago this area was all black but in recent years it has gotten greener – at least as seen from above, at a distance. The minimum rating for this hike would be C due to the difficulty of walking on lava rock.


PARK: N34 57.375, W107 56.579
MID POINT: N34 56.001, W107 53.446

Map Filename: Acoma-ZuniWest_Nnew.jpg
Hike GPS File Name: Acoma-ZuniWestWayTrack_JBJB.gpx
Hike GPS File: Click link to download hike waytrack file

Text Author: Roger Holloway
Map Author: Marilyn Warrant
Waypoints Author: John Boyd
Track Author: John Boyd
Maintainer: Dawn McIntyre
Editor: Marilyn Warrant

Photos of This Hike
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