Ever wanted to hike up to a volcano or hike down into an ice cave? What if I told you that you could do both at the Bandera Volcano & Ice Cave in New Mexico?
I stumbled upon this by chance as we made our way back to Texas from dropping Bubbanator off at ASU in Arizona. We decided to take the scenic route and make a mini vacation out of it.
In typical Nutty Hiker aka Bridget fashion, I knew I needed to find us unique and unusual experiences (places) to visit so I set out to search Google Maps & Roadtrippers.
Bandera Volcano & Ice Cave History
Located near Grants, New Mexico, and owned by the Candelaria family, this privately owned volcano and ice cave known as the Bandera Volcano & Ice Cave is New Mexico’s land of Fire & Ice.
The volcano is over 10,000 years old and is one of the most accessible volcanoes in the country. Its crater is almost 1400 feet wide and 800 feet deep with a lava flow 23 miles long.
The Ice Cave was formed in a section of the volcano’s collapsed lava tube and never gets above 31 degrees. The ice floor is roughly 20 feet thick and once was mined by ancient Indians and settlers. Every year the ice floor becomes thicker with summer rainfall which then freezes and adds a new layer to the ice floor.
Self Guided Tour
The tour is self-guided and self-paced (my favorite kind).
The Bandera Volcano
When we visited, they had opened up the jeep trail that runs through the lava field so you could make a loop instead of doing an out-and-back to the volcano and then an out-and-back to the ice cave from the visitor’s center.
Once you leave the visitor’s center, you begin your 1/2 mile ascent to the opening of the Bandera Volcano crater. The trail is nice and wide and relatively flat for the first small section as you head to the base of the volcano. You will pass a couple of notable features which are all on the self-guided walking tour map you are provided.
Once you get to the base of the volcano, you begin your ascent. Don’t worry, it is nothing too crazy and there are benches along the way to stop and rest a bit if needed (or to just sit and take in the beauty around you). It really is a fantastic view!
Once you reach the top, you get an incredible view of the crater and lava flow. It’s only then that you begin to realize how impressive this volcano would have been!
Once you have taken a million pictures and admired the force of mother nature, you begin descending back the way you came so you can make your way to the Ice Cave.
You will take a jeep trail that crosses the lava field to reach the Ice Cave. If your feet are not feeling up to getting beat up by the lava, you can continue on back to the visitor center and take the trail from the visitor’s center to the Ice Cave instead.
The Lava Field
We chose to take the jeep trail and cross over the lava field. Man that will do a number on your feet, even with thick sole shoes! The trail itself is made up of smaller lava rocks and you can feel each one!
Along the way, you will get to see different lava formations, each one is given a number so you can read more about it in your self-guided tour map.
There is a short trail off of the main trail that will take you to the landing of what seems like a million stairs to get down into the Ice Cave.
The ice cave never gets above 31 degrees and feels amazing after the hike to get there., especially if you are doing it in the middle of Summer as we did! At the bottom of the stairs is what I like to call the Ice Cave selfie station. In reality, it’s just a landing above the 20 feet thick ice floor.
The ice cave itself is equally impressive to the volcano. It is crazy to think at one time, ancient Indians and settlers use to mine the ice to use it for the same things we use ice for today.
Once you are done admiring the beauty of the ice cave it is time to make your way up the stairs and back to the visitors center for some souvenirs!
Video of our Tour
Can’t make it out to see this amazing creation? Feel free to watch our self-guided tour of the Bandera Volcano & Ice Cave.
Bandera Volcano & Ice Cave Information
12000 Ice Caves Road
Grants, NM 87020
Open Daily. Check Website for Current Times.
$12 – Adults; $6 Kids (6-12); Seniors (65+), Military, AAA get $1 off