Sandia Cave Photos

(Prior to the Restoration Project)



These views from the trail show the cave entrance just below the top of the limestone cliffs.
Sandia Grotto members and others regularly pick up trash along the trail to the cave. Even the concrete barriers in the parking lot were covered with graffiti.
The test hole shown on the right (with a temporary screw inserted) has been suggested as a means of permanently identifying selected survey stations in the cave as they are easily hidden after use.
The Sandia Grotto of the NSS has maintained both the trail and the interior of the cave for many years. Other groups have also maintained the trail.
The first stairway leading up to the cave was recently cleaned of excess dirt and rock, providing a safer access to the cave for the many visitors that enjoy their visit.
Even the trail to the cave is marked with heavy tagging.
The spiral staircase connects the end of the trail to the entrance of Sandia Cave. Small kids and even dogs have been seen using this stair while the cleanup group is in the cave.
Our FS archaeologist gives an impromptu talk on the cave to these two ladies that just walked up from the parking lot. Note the distinct smoke line at the entrance, likely due to water running down the cliff face during wet weather.
A beautiful view up and down Las Huertas Canyon is enjoyed from the cave portal. Unfortunately the cave vandals also enjoy building fires about 15 feet inside the entrance, which always leaves a mess on the floor and adds another layer of soot on the ceiling.
Fires appear to be common in the cave most of the year. Graffiti covers the cave and exterior walls, and even portions of the metal structures.
Archaeologists will take notes on possible historical markings prior to the actual graffiti removal. Deep holes in the walls and ceiling mark the location of a previous gate which was installed about 8 feet inside the entrance.
The caver on the left is experimenting with the use of a pure water spray on the dust covered graffiti. We think this will be useful in identifying historic marks prior to paint removal. The caver on the right is measuring a wall distance with a laser device.
The area on the left was apparently painted in February, 2015. We found that this particular spray paint was easily removed with a brush. Small cave visitors are found quite often on weekends as the site is a great location for a family outing.
Even the ceilings are covered. When taking documentation photos of the graffiti often a simple on-camera flash provides the best photo, unless there is fine dust in the air from the constant stream of weekend visitors.
The possible historic mark in the left hand photo was taken in 2013, and now the same area (in 2015) is covered with much more graffiti!
It takes a good eye to spot possible historic marks. There are also fossil layers in the limestone.

A photo enhancement process called DStretch or ImageJ can provide false color replacement in some instances which can help bring out certain features.


The photo on the left is station C5, marked with a Sharpie after brushing off the yellow ocher dust that covers almost the whole cave, caused by the extensive traffic by spelunkers. We think the mark on the right could be a Hibben survey mark.
More potential Hibben survey marks.
This historic piece of iron was found below the trail area while picking up trash thrown down by visitors. It likely was used to secure some sort of handrail in the past.

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