Chain of Craters Back Country Byway
The Chain of Craters Back Country Byway
The Chain of Craters Back Country Byway stretches for 33 miles along County Road 42 through the El Malpais National Conservation Area and El Malpais National Monument. The road forms the western and southern boundaries of the West Malpais Wilderness as it connects NM 53 with NM 117. This is a very scenic and remote area. The road is dirt and gravel and can usually be driven in a 2WD vehicle with high clearance. In rain or snow the road may be completely impassable (even for 4WD).
To get there: Take the San Rafael exit off the I-40 west of Grants and go south on NM 53 for about 25 miles to where County Road 42 begins on the south side of the road. Or, get off the I-40 about 5 miles east of Grants and head south on NM 117 for about 35 miles to the junction with NM 42 (on the east side of the road).
The Chain of Craters Back Country Byway is open year round, depending on the weather, and there are no fees involved.
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