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Sandia Cave

Bernalillo, New Mexico
County of Sandoval.
National Register Number: 66000487
Resource type: Site.
The threat level was Satisfactory in
Congressional District: NM 1 Certified Local Government: NO

Statement of Significance (as of designation - January 20, 1961):
Excavations here have yielded information on three distinct prehistoric groups. Situated in Cibola National Forest, the site represents one of the earliest known occupations of the Americas.

Sandia Cave appears to be in satisfactory condition. This natural cave is located in a limestone cliff face above Los Huertas Creek in the Sandia Mountains. The cave was prehistorically occupied and has been intensively excavated. The site is publicly-accessible via a quarter-mile trail and a metal circular staircase leading to the cave entrance. The length of the cave is unknown and the inspection was preformed on the first ten meters of the interior; after this point the cave narrows and artificial lighting is necessary. This site is not at risk from environmental or natural causes. Since the site has been thoroughly excavated, there are no portable artifacts, walls, or fragile components that need to be protected. The greatest threat to this site is the potential for vandalism. The site has experienced heavy vandalism over the past several years. The entrance to the cave is covered in graffiti done primarily with spray paint but markers, chalk, crayons, and etching have also been used. The graffiti also appears on the bars and railings that support the staircase and cage-like entry way. More graffiti is present within the cave but is slightly less dense than at the cave entrance. The ceiling of the cave is covered with a heavy layer of soot from prehistoric occupation and graffiti has been applied to many parts of the soot.

There does not appear to be a significant amount of new graffiti within the cave since the last report, although some of the more recent graffiti (possibly within the last year) covers a large area. There are no other changes to the site itself since the last report.

Recommendation/Change since last report:
No protective actions are required. Despite the lack of archaeological materials at the site, it is frequently visited by the public. This site would benefit from interpretive signs along the trail and at the cave. These signs could provide information on the environment and history of the area as well as accurate information about the archaeological nature of the cave itself. This would enhance the experience of visiting the site and educate the public on early prehistoric occupation in the Sandia Mountains.

Comments and questions about the database may be directed to NHL_info@nps.gov