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Sandia Man Cave

Sandia Cave is an archaeological site near Placitas, New Mexico, within the Cibola National Forest.

Location:

North of Albuquerque, NM, near Placitas, NM

The Scoop

​After I came across some photos of The Sandia Man Cave, I had put it on my Sidetrack list. I had also heard the cave was closed for awhile. When I heard it was open again, I thought it would be a fun Sidetrack for the family. One sunny beautiful Mother's Day, we met my parents for brunch at The Range Cafe in Bernalillo. The mountains were calling, so we decided to try and drive up to the Sandia Crest via SR 165 from Placitas (the back road). We were on our way up the canyon and noticed a staircase high up on the cliff walls of Las Huertas Canyon.  We then found a parking lot so pulled in. We easily found a trail head off of SR 165 as it was marked with a sign.  It is a 0.47 mile hike from the parking lot to the cave. The trail leads to two flights of cement stairs before you get to a steel spiral staircase up to the cave. A daylight visit is advisable, as well as appropriate clothes and shoes. We had some water with us and the May sun was pretty intense on the trail. We didn't know much about the cave so googled it as we walked. The Cibola National Forest website describes how the cave was discovered in 1936 by a University of New Mexico anthropology student.  From 1937-1941 UNM excavated it.  Found in the cave were stone arrow and lance points, basket scraps, bits of woven yucca moccasins, and skeletal remains of Ice Age animals such as the mastodon.  No human remains were discovered.

As we explored around the mouth of the cave a bit, we all found it quite ironic that I had picked a man cave to explore on Mother's Day. We didn't have flashlights with us, as this was an unplanned stop, but we still had fun using our phone flashlights to lead us a bit into the dark abyss. This turned out to be quite a fun adventure for our family and a Sidetrack that left a nice Mother's Day memory for us.