West of Albuquerque and south of Grants, the El Malpais National Conservation Area is a 263,000 acre semi-desert area at over 6,500. Vegetation varies from low shrubs with a piñon and Juniper to ponderosa pine woodlands. Wildflower displays occur mainly in the fall after the summer monsoons, with a modest spring cactus & wildflower display. Wildlife includes a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. In warmer weather, rattlesnakes are sometimes sighted in the canyons or heard under rocks, be alert.
The Brazo Canyon / Continental Divide Trail is clearly marked with rock cairns and wooden posts. The hiking trail winds among the Chain of Craters and passes through pinon, juniper and ponderosa pine. There are also lava flows and vistas of sandstone bluffs. There are 20+ miles.
To reach the trail head from Albuquerque, head west on US40 for about 70 miles to Exit 89, east of Grants. Follow SR117 south to CR42. Follow CR42 for 9 miles to the trailhead. The trail is marked by a rock cairn adjacent to the parking area.