Formerly known as Ceremonial Cave, Alcove House is located 140 feet above the floor of Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico. Once home to approximately 25 Ancestral Pueblo people, the elevated site is now reached by 4 wooden ladders and a number of stone stairs. Alcove House is a reconstructed kiva of former Puebloan homes. Imagine climbing these ladders, carrying whatever supplies were needed, to reach this lofty home.
Bandelier National Monument is a 33,677-acre treasure preserving the homes of the Ancestral Pueblo People. The monument named after Swiss anthropologist Adolph Bandelier, who researched the cultures of the area and was designated a National Monument on February 11, 1916. The National Park Service co-operates with surrounding pueblos, other federal agencies and state agencies to manage the park.
In October 1976, roughly seventy percent of the monument, 23,267 acres became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The park's elevations range from about 5,000 feet at the Rio Grande to over 10,200 feet at the summit of Cerro Grande. The Valles Caldera National Preserve adjoins the monument on the north and west, extending into the Jemez Mountains.
Much of the area was covered with volcanic ash called Bandelier tuff from an eruption of the Valles Caldera volcano over 1 million years ago. The tuff overlies shales and sandstones deposited during the Permian period and limestone of Pennsylvanian age. Varying in hardness, the volcanic outflow of the firmer materials were used by the Ancestral Pueblo People as bricks, while the softer material was carved into homes.
The climb into Alcove House consists of 4 wooden ladders and many stone stairs. Half way through the Main Loop Trail at Bandelier, a choice must be made; turn back toward the visitor center or continue another half mile each way to Alcove House.
This is my second visit to Alcove House. I was somewhat younger on the first visit which occurred sometime in the last century when I was still using a FILM camera…
Some digital effects were applied to the original image after the photograph was made. No electrons were harmed.
Image copyright 2023 Jon Burch Photography
November 17th, 2023
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