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The El Malpais National Monument is an important historical area that has played a major role in the lives of those who lived and passed through here. The name is Spanish for “badlands” and was assigned by Spanish explorers who avoided the area; not everyone who came agreed with the Spanish, though. Many Native American civilizations passed through, leaving cairns to mark their passage and incorporating the landscape into their stories and ceremonies. Settlers tried to establish themselves along the outskirts, and the remains of some of their homes can still be seen today. Camping near El Malpais National Monument will provide you access to everything the park has to offer.
The monument has a unique landscape, most notably from its tinajas. These are small depressions in the bedrock that collect seasonal water in what is otherwise an arid and inhospitable environment. The tinajas allow flora and some crustaceans to exist, remaining dormant during droughts and then springing to life when the water re-appears. Many of them have short life spans, some as few as ten days. The monument has an information center in the town of Grants, where you can ask questions and gather more information.
El Malpais National Conservation Area is located a short distance southeast of the El Malpais National Monument; it's a geological resource that archeologists continue to study. It's also an important resource for numerous Native American cultures. The area has many significant landmarks and is comprised of wilderness areas scattered between sandstone cliffs and canyons, and volcanic fields. The diverse scenery makes it a haven for photographers, and even hikers can appreciate the view while exploring.
Cibola National Forest is a nature preserve that ranges from New Mexico to Oklahoma and Texas. The forest is home to numerous mountain ranges that tower into the sky, with the forest covering their lower reaches, but the preserve also includes several national grasslands. Hiking is a popular activity within the preserve, and many of the trails lead to caves, which you can explore. The preserve is open to the public year-round, although higher elevations might experience inclement weather. Fishing and hunting are allowed in season; park your Grants camper rental nearby, and you can take your catch from the water straight to your fridge.
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of four distinct ecosystems: a plateau steppe, a grass prairie, a desert, and a forested woodland. The ecosystems are supported by the Rio Grande River, which flows through the refuge, and each of them is home to a variety of plants and wildlife that differ significantly from all the others. Visitors who hike and explore the area will have an opportunity to view mule deer and coyotes, prairie dogs, lizards and reptiles, and several bird species.
El Morro RV Park & Cabins is one of several options you'll have when you're looking for somewhere to camp near Grants. This family-friendly RV park has gravel roads, an on-site restaurant serving free-range eggs, and lots of shade from the juniper and pinon pine trees that provide cover. The campsites all have dirt-gravel pads, full hookups, and can be rented by the day or for up to two weeks.
Lavaland RV Park is a year-round RV park with some ADA accessibility. Pets are welcome, and the campground has restrooms with showers, WiFi, internal gravel roads, and a dump station where you can empty your tanks. The campsites have back-in or pull-through access, and some have full hookups. Some of the campsites have gravel pads; if you're looking to kill some time, the campground has a horseshoe pitch. Park your Grants camper rental at Lavaland RV Park, and you'll be within a few miles of El Malpais National Monument.
Laguna is a small community with an important landmark, the San Jose de la Laguna Mission and Convento; the mission-convent is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was built around the same time Laguna was created, approximately 1700. While you're here, you can sit down to a meal at one of Laguna's restaurants; there are a small number within the community and more a short distance away. The prices are reasonable, and the food is mostly American, with one or two alternative cuisines on hand.
Gallup is an interesting city to visit while you're camping in Grants. The city has been nicknamed the “Heart of Indian Country,” as it has many residents whose ancestors belonged to many different Native American cultures. The city has a rough and rocky landscape, which makes it a perfect setting for filming western movies, and many western films were shot here in the 1940s and 1950s. The city is dissected by the iconic Route 66.