New Mexico logo

Date of visit:
September 26, 2000

For location of this site in NM, click on the map:
 Location of Bandera Crater ...

We rate this site a:

Site Highlights:
 Trading post
 On way to El Morro
 Few visitors
 Moderate entry fee
 Hike to crater
 Some ruins
 Short walk to ice cave
 Unspectacular site
 Lava flows

[ Home ] [ Travel Page ] [ Acoma ] [ El Morro ] [ El Malpais ]
Go to first part of trip - Acoma Pueblo
Go to second part of trip - El Morro National Monument
Go to fourth part of trip - El Malpais National Monument 
Bandera Crater
Bandera Crater from the air
Bandera Crater
Bandera Crater is the largest volcanic cinder cone in the region. It erupted around 10,000 years ago. There were two stages of the eruption: first the cinder cone developed, then a massive lava flow broke out this side. The molten lava reached temperatures above 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Going to the top ... Bandera's lava flow is nearly 23 miles long. At the end of the eruption, the lava suddenly fell back down the main vent making the bottom of the cone deeper than the outside lava flow. This crater is nearly 1200 feet wide at the top and roughly 750 deep.

The elevation at the look out point is 8122. The elevation at the rim is 8372. Over time, erosion and gravity take their toll on the crater and it is slowly filling up as cinders and rocks fall down into it. This makes for a very fragile environment.

Site Gallery 1 - The Bandera Crater
Bandera Crater Bandera Crater Bandera Crater
The Ice Cave
At the trading post
At the trading post
The temperature in this cave never gets above 31 degrees Fahrenheit.

As rainwater and snow melt seep into the cave, the ice floor thickens.

The floor of the ice is approximately 20 feet thick. The deepest ice is the oldest and dates back to 1100 BC.

The green tint in the ice (gallery below) is caused by an Arctic algae. The back wall was formed in the early days when ancient Indians and early settlers mined the ice.

In 1946, ice removal was stopped at which time the ice wall was nearly 12 feet high. Since then, the ice floor has risen relative to the back wall. The rate of ice accumulation varies with annual precipitation.

The cause of original formation of ice back in 170 AD is uncertain. However, its perpetuation is due to a combination of existing conditions that make a natural ice box: 20 feet of ice in a well insulated cave shaped to trap frigid air.

The Ice Cave was known to the Pueblo Indians as the Winter Lake.

Site Gallery 2 - The Ice Cave
Ice Cave Ice Cave Ice Cave
Ice Cave Ice Cave Ice Cave
For More Information
Discover Grants, NM
The Land of Fire and Ice, Ice Cave, Bandera Volcano

[ Home ] [ Travel Page ] [ Acoma ] [ El Morro ] [ El Malpais ]