Angel Lopez

Angel Lopez

Tuesday, 30 July 2019 22:11

Live. Laugh. Lava.

     The National Park Services of El Malpais National Monument is a conservation area that’s over 350,000 acres that is primarily covered in lava flows that have contributed to creating a beautiful landscape of untouched lava fields as far as the eye can see. The terrain can be challenging and dangerous to navigate, but must be done in order to reach majority of the beautiful cave sites. The caves out here in El Malpais are really interesting lava tube caves that were formed thousands of years ago underneath the lava flows as the volcanic activity cooled. Once cooled, these caves were used as shelter for local natives in early civilization which now leave them full of history that is directly tied to the first tribes of this land.

     The mission of El Malpais National Monument is to protect and preserve, for the enjoyment of current and future generations, some of the most unique and fragile lava tube caves in the world, along with their resident bat colonies. And I’m happy to say that I’m spending my days hiking to these caves just about every day, navigating the lava fields and immersing my efforts in collecting information that furthers the El Malpais mission.

     My first several weeks here have been a blast! I’ve been part of a super friendly team of professional cavers and scientist who’ve been tasked with a project of creating very detailed illustrative cave maps and conducting some archeological inventories to help the archeology team in locating anything that we come across such as pottery sherds, bones, petroglyphs, and primitive tools. The maps that we are drawing are done in a sequence as we slowly work our way from the front of the cave and move to the very end of the cave system or vice versa. We methodically piece them together as we map around 50ft sections at a time, sometimes this includes getting through a tight squeeze of passage or staying in a super small compact space and finishing the sketch, which is always a good time J Some of these caves also require a firm grasp of technical rope entry skills in order to access and honestly are an incredible amount of fun to do. With that being said, my days out here in El Malpais are oh so rewarding as I am loving life and I would highly recommend coming out here to check out this magnificent natural landscape.  

Tuesday, 04 June 2019 05:23

This Trail Leads to New Mexico!

Hey everyone, I’m supper excited to say that I will be a Cave Technician intern this summer with the National Park Service at El Malpais and El Morro National Monuments!

Raised in Southern New Jersey most of my days were spent working on my uncle’s farm and camping in the Pocono Mountains. After high school I served five years in the U.S. Navy onboard Submarines in Norfolk, Virginia where I gained an accelerated leadership and a love for teamwork. Throughout my life I’ve always had a natural passion for being outside, but it wasn’t until I started working as an Adventure Trip Leader at the University of Maryland when I realized that I could turn my passion into my career. I really enjoy being a trip leader because I get the opportunity to network and promote great mental health practices, all while showing students some of the east coast’s finest outdoor recreation.

At UMD I’m a Geographical Information Science major with a focus on remote sensing and will be graduating this December. I found GIS because I not only get to enjoy the working outside, but also  demonstrate my love for coding, and most of all have the chance to create large scale visual map representations that promote living together and building a better future for our planet. Along the way, I’ve certified as a Rock Climbing Instructor, ACA Class 3 Whitewater Kayak Instructor, in Swift Water Rescue, and Wilderness First Responder, which has really inspired me to expand my field work experience. My natural drive for helping others also lead me to mentoring incoming veteran students on campus as a Peer Advisor for Veteran Education.

This internship resonates with me because I have the chance to demonstrate my technical skills towards making a meaningful impact on the bat habitats in the southwest. Along with that, I have the rare  opportunity to work with the National Park Service community and learn from some of the most powerful minds in the outdoor fields. I’m looking forward to immersing myself with the caves and ancient architecture in El Malpais and El Morro National Monuments this summer.


Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019 15:03

Angel Lopez

Hello! My name is Angel Lopez, I'm a student veteran and Geographical Information Science major at the University of Maryland. I currently work as an outdoor Trip Leader for the Adventure Program at UMD. Other than having great GIS system technical skills, my rock climbing instructor certification, WFR medical training, and outdoor leadership skills prove that I love working in the field. I'm also a strong believer in creating a friendly work environment with my fun attitude and encouraging others by spreading optimism. As a Peer Advisor for Veteran Education at UMD, I help incoming student veterans transition to campus lifestyle seamlessly. Outside of work, you can find me whitewater kayaking, mountain biking or hiking with family and friends.