The National Park Service has closed the Alcove House Site at Bandelier National monument due to concerns over the structural stability of the archeological site and exhibit.
Historic masonry repairs dating to the 1930s have developed a network of cracks. In recent days, masonry at this location has become dislodged, raising concern for visitor safety.
The National Park Service is actively engaged in planning repairs for the site.
Wednesday, April 10, staff from Bandelier’s Vanishing Treasures division was conducting an assessment of the site for future stabilization work, when they discovered that the Kiva structure was showing significant signs of deterioration since they last examined it.
Masonry had become loosened and the structure was being undercut. Perched at the edge of a niche in a cliff the equivalent of 14 stories above the floor of Frijoles Canyon, the Alcove House Kiva is known for its precarious setting, as well as the breathtaking series of ladders and stairs visitors must climb to reach it.
Because of its popularity and its location staff returned to the site on Thursday to make further assessments, and recommended closure. Alcove house will be closed until the site can be stabilized, likely for many months.
Acting Superintendent Tom Betts stated, “Closing a site as popular as Alcove House is not something the National Park Service would do lightly. It is one of the signature sites of Bandelier National Monument. But we do not want to take any chances with visitors getting injured or falling, and we want the resource to be stabilized and protected. I know our staff will work hard to see the stabilization through.”
Alcove House was first reconstructed in 1910, before Frijoles Canyon became part of a national monument.
The structure was further stabilized in the 1930’s, and in the same decade it became an emblem of the National Monument when the Works Progress Administration created a poster featuring the Alcove House kiva.
High quality reproductions of the WPA poster can be viewed, and are available for purchase, at the Park Store in the Visitor Center.