The Bandera Volcano erupted 10,000 years ago leaving a large 800 foot deep crater and a short hike will take you inside a 31℉ ice cave! A unique attraction in New Mexico!
Getting To Ice Cave & Bandera Volcano
The “Land of Fire and Ice” is a family run business offers you a view of two absolutely opposite natural wonders. The 800 foot deep crater from the Bandera Volcano eruption and the constant 31℉ ice cave.
This attraction is located on the Continental Divide at 12000 Ice Caves Rd, Grants, NM 87020.
Entrance and Cost
When you first arrive, you’ll have to purchase your tickets to see the attractions. Tickets can be purchased inside the Old Time Trading Post.
The Trading Post also sells jewelry, pottery, rugs and other art of local Indian Tribes. Also on display are artifacts that were found in the lava and date back to nearly 1,200 years.
Walk to Bandera Volcano
Make sure you have your trail map as you walk to the crater (and ice cave). The map will explain sights as your reach them.
You will see many trees that have been struck by lighting because the lava flow is rich in iron content.
Hot lava exploding out of the group through vents create the spatter cone.
Scenery Along the Trail
Ponderosa and Piñon Pines are the most common along the trail. The young Ponderosas have black bark and the older Ponderosas bark turns a golden orange. Douglas Fir, Juniper and Aspens trees are also prevalent.
At this point, you can see numerous Volcanos in the distance that make up the El Malpais region. There are 29 volcanoes in this area and from here you should be able to see about 15 of them.
Lava Fields and Lave Tube
Just before arriving at the crater overlook, you will cross an area named “devil’s playground” by early sheep herders.
This is the view point. The Bandera Volcano erupted around 10,000 years ago and the lava tube is nearly 23 miles long.
Walk to Ice Cave
The ice cave trail is to the left of the trading post.
Bandera Lava Flow
Walking to the ice cave initially takes you through the Bandera Lava Flow.
Due to the lava, trees can’t establish deep roots and therefore become twisted and tend to fall in strong winds.
This tree is one of the oldest living Douglas Fir trees in New Mexico at approximately 700 years old.
Natural Ice Box
This small cave contained ice and, prior to electricity, was used as a refrigerator.
Lava tubes that collapse create these sink holes.
Anasazi Indian Ruin
In this area, you will see stacks of lava rock creating walls and shelters. The ancient artifacts in the trading post were found in ancient ruins in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Lichen and Alpine Moss
Colorful green and orange lichen and Alpine Moss.
A Douglas Fir
The Ice Cave
This cave maintains a temperature of 31℉. During rain and snow, the ice floor thickens and is about 20 feet thick. The deepest ice dates back to 3,400 years ago. The green tint is caused by an Arctic algae and was known to the Pueblo Indians as the Winter Lake.
This attraction is very unique. A massive crater made from extreme heat and fire and less than half a mile away is an ice cave. The history of the trading post and area is fascinating.
It’s a bit of a drive off the beaten path but glad we visited and experienced it.
Another unique find!