Alcove House Trail

EASY 105 reviews

Alcove House Trail is a 2.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until November.

2.6 miles
252 feet

kid friendly


nature trips


bird watching



wild flowers


historic site

no dogs

Alcove House, formerly known as Ceremonial Cave, is located 140 feet above the floor of Frijoles Canyon. Once home to approximately 25 Ancestral Pueblo people, the elevated site is now reached by 4 wooden ladders and a number of stone stairs. In Alcove House, there is a reconstructed kiva and the viga holes and niches of former homes. Imagine climbing these ladders, carrying whatever supplies were needed, to this lofty home.

4 months ago

How amazing to experience the old cave dwellings of the native cultures! I enjoyed climbing the ladders and letting out my inner child! Great walk for kids too.

5 months ago

Easy but very interesting trail with many small cliff homes to explore. The Alcove ladders are long a steep but very safe and well worth the climb. Fun and interesting walk.

5 months ago

As a chubby out-of-shape 30 something, I was a bit nervous to climb all the ladders up to the Alcove House, but I'm glad I did. It gave me and arm and leg workout and it definitely was scary at times, particularly when going down the ladders. But it was worth it to say that I did it and enjoy the view at the top.

Stop by the cave dwellings on the way to the Alcove trail, which are fun to climb into and sit inside.

Must wear a hat on this trail. There is little shade.

5 months ago

This trail (along with Main Loop) are definitely more enjoyable on a cooler or cloudy day. The first part of my hike was 90 degrees and sunny, and even this Texan was hot! Got cloudy and was much more enjoyable. Views from the top are great. Some of the paths in between ladders are fairly narrow, which would make it slow going on a crowded day.

5 months ago

This trail is actually a 1 mile (there and back) add-on option to the Main Loop Trail. Most of this very easy walk is forested with lots of downed trees and debris alongside the path. The difficulty level changes dramatically once you arrive at the foot of the ladders to the alcove house itself. These ladders are not for the faint of heart and in the late afternoon, when the sun is low, the rungs are BURNING hot. That aside, it’s an exciting 140-foot climb, with incredible views from the top. Well worth it and a must do. Even for those with kids. However, when we went (a Wednesday in August), this trail was empty and I suspect that when crowded the waits in the ladders section as others climb and descend would be miserable.

6 months ago

Easy trail with lots to see where the cave dwellings are. The climb to Alcove House is really worth it if you are in decent shape... and if you don’t mind heights. It can be pretty freaky climbing down those ladders. The ladders are solid, but there’s no room for error.

6 months ago

If you are going to be in Bandelier, you have to do this trail. The ladders are very secure but be warned, while going up is tiring going down is just as exhaustive!

7 months ago

Super easy, basically just a nature walk. The ladders were cool, but 140 feet sounds higher than it actually is. Saw a lot of wildlife and cool plants and trees. Went late in the day, at about 5, and it was pretty warm, but at about 6:30 it’s significantly better (they close at 8, though). The main loop trail to the left has way more shade than to the right, though, so if I were doing it at 5pm again, I’d go left on the main loop to go out to alcove then finish the other half of the main loop with the smaller ladders and Pueblo stuff on the way back.

9 months ago

Main Loop Trail is best with guild book so as not to miss the petroglyphs along the way. Don’t forget binoculars for views of canyon and other dwellings not close to trail.
Climbed to Alcove House in late afternoon, the tallest ladder’s rungs were very hot to the touch due to warm temperatures and afternoon sun.
I’m extremely afraid of heights but this opportunity was too great to miss.
Don’t look down
Stare straight ahead
Take one step at a time
Don’t attempt when crowded.

10 months ago

Leisure hike on well groomed trail. Smell of sunshine and bushes. The four ladders were the highlight, and is reasonably family friendly — kids 6 or 7 years old seem to climb up and down with no problem. More things to see on the main loop, including a few more ladders (much shorter), and some pretty cool petroglyphs.

Monday, February 19, 2018

I loved this trail! It involves several ladders and wouldn't be great for those scared of heights! The view of the canyon is beautiful from the top.

Monday, February 12, 2018

I was stalked by a gang of deer. Other than that, it was scrumptious. Didn’t care for the $20 entry.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

A very easy trail up to the very end.

I would take the heights warning very seriously. At the end you climb ladders pretty far up. It’s best part about the whole route though.

It’s also really cool seeing the history of the culture that used to live in the valley as well.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Well the Alcove trail is just a short addition to Main loop trail, don’t short yourself just do it. It’s a relatively light hike.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Amazing experience. Not for people afraid of heights.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

nice trail........shaded shop , snack bar, restrooms, go in the evening and beat the crowds, around say 3ish......And you don't have to take the shuttle. .....You can drive your own car!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fairly easy super cool trail. Worth the $20 entrance fee. Also, get the brochure - if you don't want to spend the $1, then they let you borrow a copy to return when done. Very interesting. You get to climb up any and all ladders to go explore. Lots of little rooms. They even have preserved some art! The trail is super crowded (granted we did go over Memorial Day Weekend) so would suggest going early. As we were leaving BUSES full of people were arriving. As it was there was a line for the ladders starting behind us. Definitely continue from the Main Trail Loop onto the Alcove House Trail. Lots of long tall ladders to climb up the side of the canyon. Slightly scared of heights so it was a bit nerve racking for me, but great! Hike this trail!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Worth the side trip off the Main Ruin Loop, if only for the steep ladders bragging rights. It isn't recommended for those afraid of heights, physically challenged, or for children (although a school group was there when I went and they did just fine; probably better than the adults!).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Easy trail with cool cliff dwellings.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

great family hike with kids

Friday, February 24, 2017

Nice, interesting trail with some climbing around. $20 entry fee, but was worth it for the ancient history it contained.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

This was an amazing trail! I had never seen or done anything like it before! I did the main loop, took the route up to the cave dwellings, and also did the alcove house. It's all connected and easy to follow.

You can hike in the cave dwellings that have ladders and I definitely recommend it. Oh and also you can buy a little self guided tour book for $1 in the visitors center, which I thought was worth it.

The alcove house portion shouldn't be attempted by anyone with a fear of heights. Like really. I had issues with it and in general I wouldn't say I have issues with heights. However, the pay off is well worth it!

I went on a weekend in August and it wasn't too crowded. I definitely saw other people but we were spaced out really well.

Definitely do this hike. It was the highlight of my trip!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Great history! Super ladder Climb! a little too busy... ; very busy Fall season.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Great, very different from anything I've ever done.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Stunning views and amazing history. It's a must hike.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Was an amazing experience for us..originally from San Antonio, Texas. Beautiful sites loved it

Monday, March 28, 2016

Awesome historic trails! We hiked the Main Loop, split off to the Alcove, then hiked the Falls Trail which is near the visitors center towards the end of the Main Loop. 7.5 miles of pretty easy hiking fit perfectly for a family. The history of the Frijoles Canyon is remarkable!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Awesome! The actual hike was quite easy, the ladders were a bit more strenuous but not bad physically. Mentally challenging for us, as we are a bit afraid of heights. It is well worth the climb. The views are breathtaking.

Monday, August 31, 2015

We have just moved to Los Alamos last year, we love to camp. Went to the campsite here. It was nice and well maintained. Quiet most of the night but has a lot of car activity during the day. Site ok, not the prettiest we have seen here in beautiful new mexico. Probably won't camp here again. But did it once!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The historical significance and cliff dwellings were very interesting and combined with falls trail for a longer hike made a great day. If you arrive before 9 am you can drive your vehicle in , otherwise shuttle necessary during summer months.

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