Vandalism Closes Cavate On Pueblo Loop Trail At Bandelier National Monument

Damage caused by vandals at Bandelier National Monument. Photo Courtesy NPS

Law enforcement at Bandelier National Monument are seeking information about those responsible for recent vandalism at the Cava Kiva on the Pueblo Loop Trail. Photo Courtesy NPS


Early this week, Bandelier Rangers and Preservationists discovered damage in a highly visited and very popular area on the Pueblo Loop Trail known as Cave Kiva. Kivas are sacred sites and centers for religious and social life for Pueblo People today, just as they were for their ancestors. This kiva is in one of the cavates which visitors are allowed to access by climbing a short ladder. Signs at the site request that visitors demonstrate respect for the cultural significance of the area, as they would when visiting any other cultural or religious shrine. Rangers on the trails and in the visitor center remind the public of the importance of the area to the 23 tribal nations that are affiliated with the Monument. Despite these efforts, the site was significantly damaged by vandals.

“This is a huge disappointment”, stated Bandelier Supt. Patrick Suddath. “The care and preservation of the Ancestral Pueblo sites in Bandelier is our highest priority. To discover resources damaged in this way despite our efforts to educate, promote and instill reverence for these sites is very disheartening.”  

Public access to this space has been revoked – the ladder has been removed and closure signs posted. The cavate will remain closed while Bandelier Preservationists and Archeologists conduct a thorough site report to assess and record the damage. 

Destruction of archeological park resources is against the law and could result in felony charges, restitution, fines, and imprisonment. Law Enforcement Rangers are investigating the incident.  

If you have information about these incidents that could help investigators, please call the Bandelier Crime Tip Line at (505) 709- 0077. Though you may remain anonymous, up to $5,000 is offered for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of those responsible.