Sandia Cave

Temporary Gate



Although the proposed gate was installed, it was unlocked following the initial phase of the project. This page shows the initial proposal for a simple gate.

During our recent work on the restoration of this important site, we discovered that there is a general public and enthusiastic interest in the restoration work proposed for summer, 2015. When at the cave we found that there are numerous families, hiking groups, and often small groups being brought up to the cave by previous visitors to the cave. Almost all (99%) have commented that the graffiti really ruins the cave experience, which belongs to all of us, and they are looking forward to returning later this fall to see the results of our volunteer cleanup work. (The other 1% were silent...)

Many have suggested that some sort of gate should be placed on the cave during this work, and this web page shows the proposed addition to our plan. One of the best parts of the cave experience is just being able to hike up an easy trail, climb the spiral staircase at the end of the trail, and look out over the canyon below and grab a quick look into the cave entrance. Only a few have the equipment to go back in the cave beyond the short wall 40 feet inside the entrance, a wall that is almost visible from the top of the staircase. If you are one of the few with helmets, lights and dust masks that may want to go deeper into the cave and crawl through the yellow ochre dust that covers the floor during this Project, we invite you to join the real cavers doing some of this work and start by checking out the Sandia Grotto web site for the meeting location, and then come to one of our monthly meetings to learn more about the special underground world of caves.


A new sign was installed by the Sandia Grotto during April, 2015. Once you go past this sign (about half way along the trail), you will arrive at the bottom of the spiral staircase that will take you up to the level of the cave.

A View from the Top

Once at the top of the spiral staircase, this is the view you have of the Sandias looking across the canyon to the opposite side.

We are expecting that the past cave vandals will understand the reasons for cleaning this resource and keeping it clean so that the cave will not be closed with a secure gate.

Please help us by carrying out all your trash and that of others that don't appreciate a clean natural environment.


The black outline shows the location of the proposed temporary gate at the top level of the staircase. Measurements were recorded for construction of a small steel gate that would be hinged on the right side. Visitors to the cave during the restoration period would still be able to climb up the staircase and take a look into the cave. And best of all, they will still be able to get a broad view of the canyon from the top of the spiral staircase.

Without a gate being installed prior to the restoration work, it is feared that the restoration work will be wasted. Because of the long history of graffiti and campfires being built in the cave it is likely that the lawbreakers will continue to vandalize both the steel structure and the cave.

Portions of the existing steel structure were repainted and this graffiti on the cliff face was removed as part of the restoration project.
The original proposed design of additional steel material would be added to the existing structure to form the temporary gate.
On Tuesday, June 23, the cave entrance at the top of the spiral staircase was closed, as shown on the right. After phase two of the project was completed the gate was no longer locked.

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Equipment:   Cavers entering the cave beyond the twilight zone (past a low rock wall) should have 3 sources of light, a helmet, gloves, knee pads and a dusk mask (to protect your lungs from the yellow ochre dust that is easily stirred up when people enter the cave).

The yellow ochre is a natural mineral mixture of clay and silica. The yellow color comes from goethite, an iron oxyhydroxide mineral found in a thin layer in the cave. This fine dust will coat the cave walls, your clothing, your hair, and probably your lungs.


Sandia Grotto:   The Grotto is the local chapter of the National Speleological Society. Additional information on the cave and our meetings can be found on the web site at [].


Rev. 5-26-2018 E-mail Contact: Sandia Grotto of the NSS Contact: Webmaster