For a real experience in contrast, visit the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, "The Land of Fire and Ice," located along the Continental Divide. Walk through the twisted old-growth Juniper, Fir, and Ponderosa Pine trees; over the ancient lava trails, down into the cave, and into a dormant volcano. Inside the cave, the natural layers of ice glisten blue-green in the reflected rays of sunlight; illuminating natural arctic algae. Take the walk around the volcano and view one of the best examples of volcanic eruption in the country. Browse the historic Ice Caves Trading Post, featuring ancient artifacts, geologic souvenirs, refreshing snacks, and warm New Mexican hospitality. Click "Learn More" below for an expansion of detail.
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The Ice Caves includes many educational opportunities including worksheets and other relevant activities.
Interested in the family? We've listed several family members, and their impact on the Ice Caves.
Located along the Continental Divide, the Ice Cave features two trails: one inside an extinct caldera, the other inside a collapsed lava tube.
Photos by Jacob Alford
In addition to many contemporary Indian arts, the historic trading post features ancient artifacts on display: pottery, tools, figurines, and more; most of which were found nearby, and date back 1200 years! The trading post also features local Native American jewelry, pottery, rugs, and other crafts! The two nearby trails, the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, make the historic trading post a worthy pit-stop and hub for a true Ice Cave experience.
You can download and print our official trail-guides here. Official translations in English, German, and Spanish.
Check out more information, and other things to do along highway 53!
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We were recently featured in Scenic Byway 53!
Check out NewMexico.org's blog post about the Ice Cave!
The volcano is 800 ft. deep and exploded in volcanic fury some 10,000 years ago; very young in geologic time. It is one of the finest examples of an erupted volcano in the country, and one of the most accessible.
The trail to the Bandera Volcano is nearly half a mile long and takes 40 minutes to complete. The trail rises gradually, from the base of the volcano to its lookout, a sum of 150 feet. The lookout gives a clear vantage to observe the shattering effects that shook the earth nearly 10,000 years ago, spewing magma from within the earth, and bursting out the southern side.
Located in part of a collapsed lava tube, the Ice Cave's temperature never rises above 31º F. The natural layers of the perpetual ice create such an atmosphere that even subspecies of algae can grow fruitful in near freezing conditions.
The trail to the Ice Cave is nearly a quarter mile long, and takes 20 minutes to complete. The viewing platform is located 70 steps from the initial landing near the surface of the lava tube. Note the unusual transition in temperature throughout the descent. The final landing is located inside of the cave, with a spectacular view of the perpetual ice, and natural cave formation. The cave is subtly lit with the outside ambience, no lighting implements are required.
The Ice Cave features a gemstone-mining-sluice – for the low price of $8, pan for gemstones and arrowheads in the olde-time water-tower and trough. Optionally match your treasure to an included key, know what you've uncovered! The gemstone mining sluice is great fun for all ages, and provides an educational diversion for your stay.