Frequently Asked Questions:
Where is the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano located?
The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano are located in the west-central, Zuni Mountain range of New Mexico, where NM State Hwy 53 crosses the North American Continental Divide. Our GPS coordinates are 35˚ 00.002'N by 108˚ 04.388'W, the entrance to our driveway off Hwy 53, and 34˚ 59.592'N by 108˚ 04.836'W at our front door. Location on a highway map is at NM State Hwy 53, 25-26 miles south west of Grants, NM, from Exit 81 off I-40. Our mailing address is 12,000 Ice Caves Rd., Grants, NM 87020. Historically, along the Zuni-Acoma Trade Route and Coronado's Trail, likely Chacoan outlier site. If you see these signs, you are here.
How far are you from Albuquerque, Grants, Gallup, Santa Fe?
Albuquerque, NM: - 90 miles - about 1.5 hour drive time.
Gallup, NM: 75 miles - about 1.25 hour drive time.
Santa Fe, NM: 150 miles - about 2.5 hour drive time.
Window Rock, AZ:
What is the address so I can find you with my GPS?
It is quite remarkable that so many GPS manufacturers still have our location mapped incorrectly. We are physically located about 25 miles south west of Grants, NM on NM State Hwy 53. From I-40 you would take Exit 81 and turn south and follow Hwy 53 25 miles. The errors on so many GPS devises are apparently related to our mailing address of 12,000 Ice Caves Rd., Grants, NM 87020. In fact NM State Hwy 53 is the same road as Ice Caves Rd. and when you drive the highway, you see many address signs marked Ice Caves Rd. In any case, we are being very patient and diligent in our efforts to work with the various GPS mapping companies to correct these errors. A good rule of thumb is to try the address in the GPS and it should appear on a wider, street view map as being on NM HWY 53 about 25 miles south of Grants and I-40. If the location marked is anywhere inside the town of Grants or north of Grants, then it is in error.
Can you give me directions to the Ice Cave coming from Albuquerque?
It is easy to get to the Ice Cave from Albuquerque. Just take I-40 west until you get to Grants, NM then take the Exit 81 and take a left at the top of the exit, turning south on NM Hwy 53, follow that road 25 miles where you will come to our entrance gate that is clearly marked with posts and signs, just take a left and follow our driveway for a half mile to the parking lot.
Can you give me directions to the Ice Cave coming from Gallup?
It is easy to get to the Ice Cave from Gallup. Just take I-40 east until you get to Grants, NM then take the Exit 81 and take a right at the top of the exit, turning south on NM Hwy 53, follow that road 25 miles where you will come to our entrance gate that is clearly marked with posts and signs, just take a left and follow our driveway for a half mile to the parking lot.
Are you open today?
Click here for Hours of Operation.
When do you close today?
Click here for Hours of Operation.
Are you open on the holidays?
Yes on some.
What is the weather there like usually?
New Mexico is enchanted with very unpredictable weather. Here at the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, we have very typical seasons, though unpredictable weather in each season. The owner, David Candelaria would often remark that we are "high and dry" here at the Ice Cave. That is literally true being on top of the Continental Divide at about 8,000 ft. elevation and receiving so little annual precipitation. To sum it up briefly by season: Spring time starts usually as lingering winter, usually cold nights and mild days, some cold days and storms that bring wind and snows into April and May. Late spring brings very mild, pleasant days where it starts to green up. The summer starts hot and dry where mid days are hot but mornings and evenings are cool. Mid summer brings the Monsoon Season and late afternoon thunder showers that often dump a lot of rain in a little amount of time and they usually don't last more than 30 minutes. Fall brings mild daytime temperatures and cold nights and sometimes early snows. We are closed during the winter months from November through February!
What is the weather there like today?
Every day is beautiful here, no matter what the weather is like. Often the weather can change 3-4 times in a single day, sunny for the most part then it gets cloudy quickly and dumps lots of rain for a few minutes and then get sunny again just as suddenly. It is remarkable. Generally, it is dry with mild temperatures. We would be very happy to field your phone call at 1-888-ICE-CAVE and give you an up to the minute weather update. You can view an official daily weather forecast at the link below.
Are you open when the weather is bad?
NO! We are closed during the winter months from November through February! We reserve the right to close for weather, or other emergency conditions.
Do you get much snow do you get there in the winter?
Typically, we start getting snows as early as October and as late as May. Most often, we get 1-6" snows that typically melt before another snow storm arrives which makes it rare that we accumulate snow over the course of any given winter. A heavy snow fall for us is over 2 feet. The winds often drift the snows and there are places that get over 3 foot snow drifts. During El Nino years, it is wetter and we do sometimes see snows that accumulate during a winter, this has happened 4-5 winters in the last 20 years or so. During La Nina years, it is colder and drier - less snow storms.
When is the best time of year to visit the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano?
It is a good idea to make a point of visiting the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano from March through October. We close for the winter months from November through February!
What is there to see and do at the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano?
The Ice Cave and the Bandera Volcano are two unique and historic natural land marks located in the west central Zuni Mountain range of New Mexico. The Bandera Volcano was active about 10,000 years ago and formed one of North Americas best example of an erupted cinder cone. It is spectacular. It poured out about 20 miles of lava flow through a lava tube system over 17 miles long. Most of the lava tube collapsed but some sections remained intact as cave structures. The Ice Cave is located in the lava flow and specifically in a section of collapsed lava tube. At one end of the collapse is a one room cave where just the right set of physical conditions have combined to form a natural ice box. The temperature in the cave never rises above 31 degrees Fahrenheit. As rain water and snow melt seep down into the cave, it collects on the ice deposit at the bottom and freezes new layers of ice every year. Over the years, scientific research has indicated that ice has been forming in the cave for over 3,400 years. Ancient Native American artifacts recovered and preserved on display in the Trading Post reveals that people have had ongoing interaction with the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano for over 1,200 years. In fact the same trail you walk over to get to the Ice Cave is the same pathway people have been walking along to enjoy the natural and refreshing cool depths of the Ice Cave for over a thousand years. The Spanish Conquistadors that explored the area on the adventures declared it to be "El Malpais" (badlands.) There are two trails to walk that take about one hour walking at a leisurely pace. In one hour you can climb a volcano and chill out in the Ice Cave. It is a self guided walking tour, so you go at your own pace and you are welcome to take pictures and video if you remember to bring your camera. It is a landscape of contrast, a monument to Earth's volcanic fury, a landscape of ironic, if not mysterious splendor that Reddy Candelaria described so long ago when she coined the phrase "Land of Fire and Ice."
How long are the trails?
There are two different trails to walk here. They are both included in the admission fee. You can walk both trails and return to the parking lot in about 1 hour at a leisurely pace. The trail to the Bandera Volcano is a half mile in one direction that winds around the south side of the volcano to a lookout point. You gain about 150 feet of elevation over that trail and the average walking time to the volcano and back is 40 minutes. The trail to the Ice Cave is carved through the top of the lava flow and is mainly level. That trail is 400 yards in one direction and leads you to the stairway that takes you 69 steps down into the one room cave. The Ice Cave trail takes about 20 minutes round trip to walk. You can see both sites and be back to your car in about 1 hour for a total round trip walking distance of a mile and a half. You can read more about the trails and view a trail map by following this link. Trail Access Information
How difficult are the trails?
Interestingly enough, there is actually a recognized system of rating hiking trail difficulty. Accordingly the trails to both the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano are rated as "Class 1 trails - Easy hiking on well maintained trails." More specifically, both trails are surfaced by hard packed earth and cinders (volcanic gravel.) The trails are wide enough for us to operate our snow plow - wide enough for us to get our maintenance vehicles over. The volcano trail has 3 segments, the first section is mainly level that takes you from the trading post to the base of the mountain. The next section winds up and around the volcano making a gradual incline between 5% and 10% grades. The last third of the trail levels out and into the breach of the cinder cone that was washed out when lava broke out the south side of the cider cone making it easy to see inside without having to climb to the top. The Ice Cave trail is mainly level until you reach the stairway and then 69 steps down into and back out of the cave. The stairway is a sturdy lumber construction and divided into 3 flights with 4 landings. The top 3 landings have rest benches and the stairway had hand rails on both sides. People of all ages and abilities walk the trail every day but everybody is different and has to assess their own capability to walk the trails here.
Are my children too young to take on the trails?
No. People of all ages take the self guided tour here everyday. Young parents are welcome to take their infants and toddlers on the trails. Children younger than 5 years old are free. Many parents of youngsters find using a baby back pack or stroller to be very helpful.
Can we take a stroller on the trails?
Yes. People take strollers on the trails everyday. The trails have some inclines and declines and some heavier graveled portions and it is easier to use strollers with larger wheels. In some places it might be easier to pull a stroller rather than pushing it. The only place where you won't be able to use a stroller is the stairway into and out of the Ice Cave. Visitors just leave the stroller at the top of the stairway and then either cary the young child or hold their hand as they walk down and up the steps.
Are the trails to the Ice Cave / Bandera Volcano wheel chair accessible?
It is very difficult to get wheel chairs and motorized scooters up and down the trails to the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, but every year we get several very hearty individuals that succeed at doing so. We are always open and try to give all of the necessary information needed for each individual who considers giving it a try. For those people who would like to try it, we do not charge an admission fee. Even if a person using a wheel chair can only make it partially down the trails, they usually find it very rewarding. We always recommend a person to help push and stabilize the wheel chair or motorized scooter. If you have a motorized wheel chair or scooter, make sure it is fully charged. Generally speaking, the bigger the tires the better. As natural landmarks it is a difficult balance to provide access while maintaining the integrity of the landmarks and this is especially true of the Ice Cave. The cave itself is the only place where you could not operate a wheelchair at all. Constructing wheelchair access into the cave has been studied and found to be nearly impossible without potentially affecting the delicate natural conditions that needed to remain viable as a perpetual ice cave. For the most part, it is simply a matter of physical space limitations. The parking area and Trading Post facilities are wheelchair accessible. It is an old building and can get a little crowded and on busy days and it might be a little challenging but we are always happy to lend assistance if called for. If you would like to discuss your particular situation, we will be happy to try to find a good solution for you to make access possible. You can call our toll free number at 1-888-ICE-CAVE if you have more questions or want additional information.
Am I too old to walk the trails?
Every person had different abilities. We strive to give you all of the necessary information for you to assess your own abilities as they relate to being able to walk the trails. We have had people in their 90's successfully walk the trails and we have had people in their 30's who found it difficult to do the walk. We trust your own judgment and leave that decision for you to make. If an elderly person attempts to walk the trails and finds that it is too difficult, then we will be happy to provide a full refund for any admission fee that they have paid.
Will I need a Jacket?
On warm and hot days, you will not need a jacket to see the Ice Cave. On cold days it is a good idea to wear a jacket on the trails. You should base that decision by your comfort to walk outside for an hour. Almost all of the walking here is outdoors, so if the weather conditions are such that you are cold walking outdoors for an hour, you should wear a jacket. The cave itself is cold inside. It is a one room cave and you do go down inside the cave and it is 30 degrees Fahrenheit. You are not down in the cold of the cave for long enough to need a jacket on a warm day. In fact, it is nice and refreshing to cool off down in the cave on a hot day, especially if you first walk to the volcano where you will get hot and then down to the cave to cool off.
Will I need a flashlight?
No. The Ice Cave is a one room cave with a large opening that lets plenty of sunlight to enter and see by. There is no need for a flashlight at all.
How should I dress to walk the trails?
You should dress comfortably to walk outside for about one hour depending on weather conditions. In the winter, warm clothes are appropriate. In the heat of summertime, it is a good idea to have some protections from the high altitude sunlight. Comfortable walking shoes are also important. We recommend tennis shoes and hiking shoes but people wear sandals and flip flops all of the time. If you are accustomed to wearing sandals or flip flops you will be able to wear those.
Do I need any special equipment or gear?
No. Just dress comfortably to walk outside for about one hour.
Can I take pictures or video?
Yes - we encourage you to take all of the pictures and video that you wish. There is no additional charge to take pictures or video at the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano.
Can I bring food or drinks on the trails?
On hot summer days, we encourage you to bring something to drink to stay hydrated in the unique high altitude heat and sunshine. Of course, we urge you to bring back any litter and properly dispose of it in the garbage barrels near the Trading Post. Other than that, we prefer that you do not bring food or drinks on the trails or picnic on the trails. We have a very pretty picnic area that you are welcome to use near by the Trading Post.
How much does it cost to see the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano?
For teenagers (age 13 & up) and adults, the general admission rate is $11.00 per person. For children ages 5-12, admission is $5.00 per child and children under 5 years old are free. Senior citizens and Military service members are $10.00.
New Prices Effective March 2014 will be $12.00 for teenagers & adults, and $6.00 for children 5-12. One dollar off discounts for Seniors, Military, and AAA will still apply!
Does that include both trails?
Yes. The admission fee includes both trails.
Can I pay for just one trail?
The admission fee is the same price whether you want to walk to one of the trails or both of the trails.
Why do you charge admission?
As a family owned and operated natural attractions, we must charge admission to pay our employees, pay our bills and earn a living, while preserving and protecting the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano and keeping them open and accessible to the public. All of our operating expenses are covered by the revenues from admissions and retail sales in the Trading Post. We take great pride in our long family heritage of welcoming visitors from all around the world every day of the year with old fashion, New Mexico hospitality. We love this special little piece of the earth and we graciously welcome you to New Mexico's Land of Fire and Ice and we appreciate your business.
Do you take credit cards?
Yes. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discover and American Express.
Do you take debit cards?
If the debit card has a Visa or Master Card logo on it we can run it through our credit card machine.
Do you take personal checks or traveler's checks?
We do take traveler's checks. For personal checks, we need to verify an ID card and current mailing address and get a current phone number.
Do you offer any discounts?
We offer a $1.00 off discount from our admission rates for Senior Citizens 65 years and older, Military service members, and AAA members with a current membership card.
Are pets allowed on the trails?
No. Other than certified service animals, we do not allow pets on the trails.
Why don't you allow pets on the trails?
Over the years and after careful consideration, we have found that it is a good policy not to allow pets on the trails. There a several reasons why we have this policy. Among the reasons are: For the safety of the animals given the rugged lava surfaces and steep inclines below the volcano trail. For the safety of the pet owners if their pet were to leave the trail or get lost in the lava and the tendency to follow them or rescue them. For the safety of other tourists. In the early years, we allowed pets on leashes but too many times, the pet owners allowed the pets loose, causing problems, putting themselves in danger when they left the trails. Sometimes people brought menacing dogs that barked or bit other visitors and occasionally two dogs would get into fights. There are a variety of problems and safety issues and we have determined not to allow pets on trails. We do allow you to walk your pet around in the parking lot and on a leash and we appreciate it if you clean up after them. Given the high elevation in the cool mountains, if you park in the shade with a window partially opened, we have found the pets are safe when left inside. The way the trails are laid out, you can check on your pet midway through your tour, between the two trails.
How far down into the cave can I go?
The Ice Cave is a one room cave with a large opening facing south east that lets in plenty of sunlight. At the bottom of the stairway is a platform where you can view the interior of the cave and at this point you are inside the cave. You are not going to be walking through a long dark tunnel and you never leave the sight of daylight.
How many steps are there going down into the Ice Cave?
The stairway consists of 3 flights of steps totaling 69 steps in all. Between each flight there is a landing / platform with a rest bench. There are hand rails on each side of the stairway.
How come it stays so cold in the Ice Cave?
The Ice Cave is a unique natural phenomenon that occur in lava tubes (although very rarely) around the world. For a lava tube type of ice cave formation to occur, just the right combination of physical characteristics have to be present. Lava tube caves are composed entirely of lava which is porous and riddled with air bubbles. The lava walls, floor and ceiling act as a very good insulating material. Another important factor is the physical shape of the cave itself. It must be able to trap cold air down into the cave and prevent warm air from entering. An ice cave must have a floor structure that will allow water to collect rather than drain off or leak out through fractures. During the cold months of winter, the water trapped in the cave will freeze and depending on the ventilation properties of the cave, that ice will serve to keep the temperature in the cave cold throughout the year. Over time, as ice continues to accumulate a critical mass of ice may develop transforming the cave from conditions that allow seasonal cold and ice deposits to a perpetual ice cave. In the case of this particular ice cave, we know that ice has been present and forming continually for over 3,400 years.
How old is the ice in the Ice Cave?
The Ice Cave is formed in one end of a collapsed lava tube. The lava flow originates from the Bandera Volcano which was active approximately 10,000 years ago. This date is the absolute oldest time frame that ice could possibly have started forming in the cave since there was no cave prior to the eruption. Over the years, we have had a number of scientific studies of the ice in the Ice Cave. There were two different studies that involved taking core samples of the ice deposit. The deepest ice core that was studied contained some organic material (wooden twigs and a bird feather) which was tested using radiocarbon dating that revealed that ice has been forming in this cave for at least 3,400 years continuously. This gives us a reliable time frame between 3,400 years ago and 10,000 years ago where ice started forming in the cave.
Is the Ice in the Ice Cave part of a glacier?
No. The date of the volcanic activity for the Bandera Volcano is approximately 10,000 years ago. At that time there were no glaciers in the area. If there would have been any glaciers in the area, the hot molten lava that poured out of the volcano would have melted it, making it impossible for any glacier ice to end up inside the lava tube where the Ice Cave is located.
Can I walk on the ice?
No. In order to sustain and conserve the delicate natural features of the cave, we do not allow anybody to go beyond the bottom platform to view the interior of the Ice Cave. It is also a safety concern as the ice floor is very slippery.
Can I explore the Ice Cave?
No. We do not allow anybody to go beyond the bottom platform to view the Ice Cave.
Has anybody ever explored the Ice Cave?
Yes. Over the years, a number of scientific studies have been performed including several cave surveys. The cave system has been thoroughly explored and mapped.
Are there stalagmites or stalactites in the Ice Cave?
No. Stalagmites and stalactites are formed by accumulating mineral deposits that take millions of years to form. The Ice Cave is located in a section of collapsed lava tube originating from the Bandera Volcano which was active only 10,000 years ago. In geologic terms, this time frame is considered to be very recent, much too recent for such cave formations to generate.
Are there icicles in the Ice Cave?
Occasionally, icicles form and fall from the ceiling of the Ice Cave. It happens primarily during wet and cold periods when water is percolating down into the cave from the surface above. Generally, these conditions exist during late winter through the spring time when snow melt seeps down into the cave and generated icicles. When icicles do form, they usually last between a week and a few months before they either melt away or let go and crash down to the floor. Most years see some formation of icicles. There have been several years when series of large and small icicles drape down from the ceiling, usually on the eastern side. Most years, there are at least a few small icicles that form there.
How did that wall of ice form in the back of the Ice Cave?
The wall of ice present at the back of the ice deposit was formed approximately between 50-100 years ago as early settlers and US Calvary began to mine ice from the cave floor. As they removed large ice blocks from the cave they started from the top / front of the ice mass and worked down and backward. This created a wall of ice that was nearing total depletion by the mid 1940's. Then, at that time, the land owner arrived and began operation as a full time tourist attraction and prohibited any further ice mining. At that point, the ice wall was between 12 - 14 feet high measured from the ice floor. Over the years since, the ice floor regenerated as ice layers began to re-accumulate year after year. Since then, the floor of ice has risen relative to the back wall of ice and now the ice wall measures only a few feet above the floor.
Is the ice in the Ice Cave melting?
The Ice Cave is dynamic and ever changing. This can be seen by looking at all of the photographs of the Ice Cave over the years. Generally speaking, the answer is - No. The temperature in the cave is always below freezing and each year more and more ice accumulates in the cave generating more ice mass. Technically speaking, there are some isolated forms of melting that do occur. This is primarily in two forms, isolated surface melting under direct sunlight and general ice ablation which is a process of slow surface evaporation related to changing seasonal air flows into and out of the cave. In either case, the total ice mass continues to increase where any isolated surface melting is temporary and quickly refreezes and where ice ablation results in slight evaporation and is mostly is recaptured by condensing on the ceiling and eventually returning to the floor to refreeze. In the midst of these two types of melting processes is the annual inflow of water freezing into new ice and the total net change in ice mass is always positive.
Is climate change affecting the Ice Cave?
As a natural system, the Ice Cave is undoubtedly tied to the climate. Over the years as a part of natural climate cycles, the effects are evident in the ever changing ice mass formation. More or less net ice mass accumulation, more or less icicles form, cycles of other ice formations in other parts of the cave are almost always different from year to year. Natural climate cycles related to the phenomenon of the El Nino and La Nina weather patterns are very evident when they occur. Long and very wet monsoon seasons that bring warm summer rains are the most obvious as they will deposit several inches of water on top of the ice floor that may take several months to freeze completely to form new ice layers. Over the years, data collected from the many scientific studies indicate that the temperature in the cave has been stable. This is good news. However, it must be noted that the temperature in the cave is indeed freezing at 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but that temperature is really just barely freezing, it is nearly at the thawing threshold. If global climate change results in significant and sustained long term warming, it is quite possible that the cave could be negatively impacted.
How much ice is in the Ice Cave?
There are three basic methods that we have used to estimate how thick the floor of ice is. The first method consisted of examining historic photographs of the cave and using image processing, estimate the amount of ice accumulation over the years. As a part of that same study, scientists also took a number of core samples that they were able to measure. A third piece of the puzzle involves interpolating the actual physical cave structure to determine the likely floor of the lava tube. From this information, we estimate that the total thickness of the ice mass deposit is between 18-20 feet.
Why is there water on top of the ice sometimes?
Typically during the summertime we get monsoon rains that bring significant amounts of water down into the cave and settling on the ice floor. This rain water is relatively warm and generally takes a few months to freeze completely to form a new layer of ice. This a natural annual cycle and new ice continues to be generated year in and year out.
Are there bats in the Ice Cave?
No. The temperature in the Ice Cave is too cold for bats to want to perch or hibernate there.
Do I have to climb to the top of the volcano?
No. There is a large opening in the southeastern facing slope of the cinder cone. This opening is called a breach. It was formed when the volume of lava filled the cone until it broke out one side and poured down into the valley below. The trail winds around the side of the volcano gradually and levels off into the breach making a spectacular look out point. In fact the look our point is situated at the prime location with which to best view the Bandera Volcano, much better than at the rim.
Can I climb to the top of the volcano?
No. For safety and conservation reasons, we do not allow you to leave the trail and we do not allow anybody to climb to the top of the volcano.
How high is it to the top of the volcano?
From the outside base of the volcano to the top of the rim is about 500 feet and then from the rim down to the bottom of the cinder cone is about 800 feet deep, making the inside of the volcano lower than the surrounding elevation. It is very rare for a cinder cone to have maintained its interior cone depth which makes the Bandera Volcano one of the best examples of a cinder cone eruption in North America.
How wide is the volcano from rim to rim?
At the widest point, the volcano is about 1,400 feet measured from rim to rim.
How deep is the volcano?
From the top of the rim to the bottom interior of the cinder cone it is about 800 ft deep.
When was the last time the Bandera Volcano erupted?
Over the years many scientific studies have been performed to determine when the Bandera Volcano was active. Several of these studies concurred to estimate that it erupted about 10,000 years ago.
Is there any signs of volcanic activity in the area?
At this time there are no signs of any volcanic activity.
Will the volcano erupt today?
Can I explore the lava flow?
For safety and conservation reasons, we do not allow you to leave the trail and we do not allow anybody to explore the lava flow. If you would like to do some of this more advance hiking and explore the lava flow, you can check in with our neighbors at the El Malpais National Monument, just a few miles east of us and they will give you information where you can go to do that.
Can I ride my bike on the trails?
Can I drive my car on the trails?
Can I take a piece of lava or twisted wood or collect plants?
How come the trees growing there are so twisted?
We have a spectacular landscape here at New Mexico's Land of Fire and Ice. One of its many striking features is the old growth forest and twisted trees that have grown on the lava bed. The reason that the trees grow to be so twisted is likely due to the subsurface conditions that these trees are rooted in. As the trees have to twist and contort their root systems to grow in the lava rock, the tops of the trees are affected and often grow to be twisted.
Did aliens really come and visit the Ice Cave?
We have found no evidence that extraterrestrial aliens have ever been in the Ice Cave. Of course, no visit to New Mexico is complete without experiencing the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, so if aliens have visited our state it would be very likely that they would take the time to drop in and check it out.
Are there Rattlesnakes on the trails?
Rattlesnakes really do not thrive at such high elevations. On occasion though, we have found a few pygmy timber rattlesnakes in the lava flows. It is very rare to find a rattle snake on the trails here.
Are there Mountain Lions or Bears on the trails?
Mountain Lions and Bears are nocturnal animals and very shy when it comes to interacting with humans. They are around in this area but it is very rare to see them during operating hours.
Are the trails safe?
Yes, the trails are safe for people of all ages.
If we don't come back from the trails will you send a search party?
Yes we will.
Do you charge Sales Tax?
Yes, we do charge sales tax. Our admission rates are structured so that the sales tax has been included.
Do I need reservations to see the Ice Cave?
No. You do not need a reservation to visit the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano. We open at 9 am for self guided walking tours. You need to arrive by 4:00 at the latest! It takes an hour to make a complete tour of the Ice Cave & Volcano, and we let the last full tour go at 4:00. We close the trading post at 5:00 and our gate soon thereafter.
Do you offer any group discounts?
We do offer discounts for educational groups and groups totaling over 20 people. We do encourage you to call ahead to secure the discount and make a group reservation. Even if you show up with your group unannounced, we will be happy to see you and we will greet you with a smile.
Can I bring a school group to the Ice Cave for a field trip?
Yes. The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano make a fantastic opportunity for a fun and educational field trip experience. We do offer educational group discounts and we encourage you to call ahead to make a group reservation and secure your discount. Send e-mail to request field trip email@example.com
Can I bring a scout group or church group to the Ice Cave for a field trip?
Yes. The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano make a fantastic opportunity for a fun and educational field trip experience. We do offer discounts for educational groups and groups totaling over 20 people. We do encourage you to call ahead to secure the discount and make a group reservation. Even if you show up with your group unannounced, we will be happy to see you and we will greet you with a smile. Send e-mail to request field trip firstname.lastname@example.org
Is the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano part of the National Park Service?
No. The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano is a family owned and operated natural attraction. Besides being friendly neighbors with the El Malpais and El Morro National Monuments, we are not affiliated with the National Park Service.
Do you take the Golden Eagle / NPS annual pass?
No. The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano is a family owned and operated natural attraction. Besides being friendly neighbors with the El Malpais and El Morro National Monuments, we are not affiliated with the National Park Service.
We do not take the National Park passes.
Is the Ice Caves on an Indian Reservation?
No. The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano is a family owned and operated natural attraction. Besides being friendly neighbors with the Navajos, the Zunis and the Acomas, we are not within an American Indian Reservation nor do we have any tribal affiliations.
Who discovered the Ice Cave?
We have recovered and preserved a fantastic collection of ancient artifacts which are on display in our Trading Post which indicate that the first people to discover and interact with the Ice Cave were the late era Anasazi and the early period Pueblo peoples. The first European peoples to have experience the Ice Cave were likely the early Spanish Conquistadors who traveled passed here quite frequently. It is very likely that Conquistador Coronado himself visited the Ice Cave. Of course, no visit to New Mexico is complete without experiencing the Land of Fire and Ice.
Who owns the Ice Cave?
The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano is a family owned and operated natural attraction. The family of David Candelaria now own the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano. It has been in the family since the early 1900's and we have a long and proud family heritage of conserving the property and keeping it open to the public. Ice Cave Owners
How old is the Trading Post?
The Trading Post was built in the 1930's to be a Saloon and Dance Hall. They used blocks of ice mined from the Ice Cave to keep their beer cold which made it so they were one of the few places in the old west to serve ice cold beer.
Was the Trading Post really once a Saloon and Dance Hall?
Yes, The Trading Post was built in the 1930's to be a Saloon and Dance Hall. They used blocks of ice mined from the Ice Cave to keep their beer cold which made it so they were one of the few places in the old west to serve ice cold beer.
How many people visit the Ice Cave?
We get people from all around the world who visit the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, every day of the year. We are open every day but it is a seasonal attraction - busy in the summer and very slow in the winter. On a busy day, our parking lot will be full of cars and on a slow day, we might only get a few visitors - sometimes we have a day where no one comes at all.
Is there a place where we can have a picnic?
Yes, we have a very nice little picnic area that you can use right by the Trading Post and in the shade of several Ponderosa Pine trees, it is very lovely.
Can I use my BBQ grill in your picnic area?
We are always very concerned about preventing wild fires and as such, we don't allow conditions where an open flame is present. You may not build a fire or use charcoal grills in the picnic area. We do not provide BBQ grills. Depending on current fire conditions, we reserve the right to prohibit the use of any BBQ grill.
Do you sell Gasoline or Diesel fuel?
No. We do not have any gasoline or diesel fuel for sale here. The nearest gas station is 12 miles west of us on NM Hwy 53 at the Tinaja Trading Post / Family Restaurant which is open Wednesdays - Sundays. Beyond that, another 10-15 miles are two more gas stations in Ramah, NM and there are several more in Zuni NM. Of course there are plenty of gas stations in the nearby town of Grants, NM which is 25 miles north east of us.
Do you sell food there?
Yes. We sell a small variety of snacks and drinks.
Are there restaurants nearby?
Yes. There are many good restaurants in Grants, NM which is 25 miles northeast of us and to the west along NM Hwy 53 there is several including; Tinaja Family Restaurant - 505-783-4349, the Inscription Rock Trading Company 505-783-4706, the Ancient Way Outpost 505-783-4612, the Stagecoach Cafe in Ramah - 505-783-4288.
Can I camp out there?
We do not allow any camping on the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano property. There are several places nearby that you can camp including on National Monument lands within the El Malpais National Monument and a very nice fully developed campground at the El Morro National Monument. There is also a very nice campground in the Cibola National Forest which is up Forrest Road 50 at Redondo Campground. There is also several commercial camping locations in Grants and along NM Hwy 53 including; the Blue Spruce RV Park, the KOA Campground and RV Park, the Tinaja Family Restaurant and RV Park, the Ancient Way Outpost and also off of NM Hwy 53 at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. You can find links to most of these places here at our links page.
Can I park my RV overnight there in the parking lot?
Do you rent out the cabins there around the picnic area?
Where is the nearest town with lodging?
Grants, New Mexico is the nearest town that has a good selection of lodging available. Nearest Lodging
Is there lodging nearby that is closer than Grants, NM?
Yes. There is a very nice Bed and Breakfast a few miles west of us, the Cimarron Rose B&B - 800-857-5776. There are also camping cabins at the Ancient Way Outpost - 505-783-4612 and there is a nice Bed and Breakfast in Zuni, the Inn at Halona - 800-752-3278.
Are there any campgrounds or RV parks nearby?
Yes. There are several places nearby that you can camp including on National Monument lands within the El Malpais National Monument and a very nice fully developed campground at the El Morro National Monument. There is also a very nice campground in the Cibola National Forest which is up Forrest Road 50 at Redondo Campground. There is also several commercial camping locations in Grants and along NM Hwy 53 including; the Blue Spruce RV Park, the KOA Campground and RV Park, the Tinaja Family Restaurant and RV Park, the Ancient Way Outpost and also off of NM Hwy 53 at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. You can find links to most of these places here at our links page.
Is there room to park my RV or Big Rig in the parking lot?
Yes. The way the parking lot is designed, you can pull in and loop around and park your RV or Big Rig so you are facing out the driveway.
I was there recently and I saw
something I wished I would have purchased, can I order that over the
phone or e-mail and have you ship it to me?
Yes. We would be happy to arrange a phone order or an internet order and will be able to ship just about anything we sell in the Trading Post.
Who makes the jewelry that you sell in the Trading Post?
We try to cary a variety of gift items here at the Trading Post including the arts and crafts of the area Native Americans. The Native American Indian arts come from the people who make it and bring it and sell it to us. Here at the Trading Post you can find jewelry, carvings, pottery and other artwork hand crafted by the Navajo, the Zuni, Acoma, Santo Domingo, Santa Clara, Jemez, Hopi and Apache Native American Indians. Besides the Native American arts and crafts we do sell many other types of gift items including some jewelry and other craft items that are not Native American made.
Where do all of the rocks come from that you sell in the Trading Post?
We have a huge selection of rocks, gem stones and minerals that we get from sources from all around the world.
Where did you get all of that old pottery that you have on display in the Trading Post?
We have recovered and preserved a fantastic collection of ancient artifacts which are on display in our Trading Post which indicate that the first people to discover and interact with the Ice Cave were the late era Anasazi and the early period Pueblo peoples. All of it was discovered on the private, family owned property near the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano. Most of it was found by the owner, David Candelaria in the mid to late 1940's and the 1950's.
What age is the old pottery that you have on display in the Trading Post?
Most of the ancient pottery and artifacts in the collection displayed in the Trading Post date between 800 and 1,200 years old.
Do you ever sell any of that old pottery?
Where did you find that old gun that is on display in the Trading Post?
The old gun displayed in the Trading Post is an 1880 Colt 38-40 that has had its barrel cut short. It was found between the Trading Post and the Ice Cave, just off the trail way under a stack of lava rocks.
What is the elevation there at the Ice Cave Trading Post?
The elevation at the Trading Post is 7,872 ft above sea level.
What is the Continental Divide?
The Continental Divide is a mountain range that divides the flows of waters falling as rain and snow between either the Pacific Ocean to the west or the Atlantic Ocean to the east. In the case of the west central Zuni Mountain range, the waters flow west to the Pacific by way of run offs that end up in the Colorado River. Waters flow east to the Atlantic Ocean / Gulf of Mexico by way of run offs that end up flowing down the Rio Grande River. The Continental Divide is not necessarily the tallest mountain range on a continent. For example, the Sandia Mountains have many higher peaks than the west central mountains but that mountain range is east of the Rio Grande River and waters that flow from either side of those mountains ends up in the Rio Grande or the Pecos River both of which end up in the Gulf of Mexico. The Continental Divide runs along the western rim of the Bandera Volcano. There is an elevation marker on NM Hwy 53 at the food of the Bandera Volcano that marks the Continental Divide
Is there cell phone signal there?
There are a few small areas where you can get a good enough cell phone signal to make a call or place a text message. Right at our entrance gate you can get a strong analog/digital signal from the nearby Verizon tower. You can get a very weak signal in a few places around our parking lot and along the Bandera Volcano trail about two thirds of the way to the lookout point you can get full bars in direct line of sight from the cell tower.
Is there wireless internet available there?
Yes. We provide free high-speed, wireless internet service that reaches to the parking area, the picnic area and within the Trading Post.
How much does it cost to do the Gem Stone Mining?
We no longer have gem stone mining available!
Do you have public restrooms there?
Who's cows are those in the fence along the driveway to the Ice Cave?
We also operate a working cattle ranch here on the property and we lease grazing to a cousin of the owner. The cows you see in the pastures on either side of our driveway are either our cows or our cousin's cows.
When was the last time there was a forest fire in that area?
Nearly every year we have both natural wild fires as well as officially proscribed fires conducted by federal agencies including the National Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Wild fires that occur in most areas of the National Monument that does not threaten private property are usually supervised and allowed to burn out naturally. Wild fires that threaten private property are contained and controlled until they are put out.
Is there anything else we can see or do in your area?
Yes, you can spend several days exploring all of the great places in our area. From the Acoma Pueblo to the east, Grants, Mount Taylor and Chaco Canyon to the north and all of the interesting sites along NM Hwy 53 including Zuni, El Morro, El Malpais, the Old School Art Gallery and the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. You can find more information at this link here. Highway 53 Highlights
What is WNS?
WNS is named for a white fungus that appears on the faces, ears, and wings of hibernating bats. Some caves on public lands may be closed to stop the spread of this fungus in bats. El Malpais National Monument, near the Ice Cave, has closed Junction, Xenolith, Big Skylight, Four Windows and Braided caves. Cave closures on New Mexico’s public lands will primarily affect caves and abandoned mines that are known to have significant bat roosts but will not affect developed caves, like Carlsbad Cavern in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano will not be closed due to WNS.
I have a question that wasn't answered on this page, is there a phone number that I can call?
Yes, please call our toll free phone number at 1-888-ICE-CAVE.
I would like to offer you some feedback or make a suggestion, can I contact you?
Yes, please call our toll free phone number at 1-888-ICE-CAVE
Or write to us at:
12000 Ice Caves Rd.
Grants, NM 87020