Death Masks of Hueco Tanks

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One of 7 or 8 death masks located inside Kivi Cave at Hueco Tanks State Park

One of 7 or 8 death mask pictographs located inside Kivi Cave at Hueco Tanks State Park

Hueco Tanks State Park lies just east of El Paso TX making it a great place to stop when heading out west. We’ve been here three times and even though the park is small and access to much of the park is restricted, we always find something new to explore. A limited number of visitors are permitted to enter each day and all are required to watch an orientation video. This is done to prevent damage to the park’s unique historical and archeological features.

The park is known for its pictographs and many require a guided tour to see but on this trip we heard about a series of death mask pictographs located in a place called Kiva Cave. While Kiva Cave is accessible without a guide, it’s difficult to find since there’s no marked trail nor is it shown on the park’s map. To locate the cave, our source gave us these directions: 1) park at the end of the road in the north section of the park and take the short marked trail to the pond 2) head back and look for the shelf on your right heading up the mountain side 3) walk up the shelf and look for the “rubber ducky” rock formation 4) once you arrive at the rubber ducky look to your right for the serpent (some call it an alligator) and find your way to its head 5) once you’ve arrived at the head of the serpent, look for the Kiva Cave (the serpent is looking right at it).

The pond at the end of the marked trail. From here, we head back and look for the shelf.

The pond at the end of the marked trail. From here, we head back and look for the shelf.

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Somewhere in this picture is the rubber ducky. While it’s difficult to recognize it here, in reality it looks exactly like a rubber ducky bathtub toy.

The serpent laying on the ridge is clearly visible in this picture.

The serpent lying on the ridge is clearly visible in this picture. Note the head of the serpent looking to the left.

The serpent's head is looking directly at the entrance to Kiva Cave.

The serpent’s head is looking directly at the entrance to Kiva Cave.

Cindy finds the entrance to Kiva Cave.

Cindy finds the entrance to Kiva Cave.

Cindy crawls her way into Kiva Cave.

Cindy crawls her way into Kiva Cave.

Cindy poses next to the one of the death masks painted over 2,000 years ago.

Cindy catches her breath while posing next to the one of the death masks painted over 2,000 years ago.

Since native americans do not have beards, this death mask likely depicts war paint.

Since native Americans do not have beards, this death mask likely depicts war paint.

Cindy exits the Kiva Cave. This place is not for those with claustrophobia.

Cindy exits Kiva Cave. This place is not for those with claustrophobia.

Cindy gives a thumbs up after successfully finding and exiting Kiva Cave.

Cindy gives a thumbs up after successfully finding and exiting Kiva Cave.

 

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2 thoughts on “Death Masks of Hueco Tanks

  1. Peter Knudsen

    Finding the cave seemed like a nice adventure. Nice job and I always enjoy the pictures and stories. Good to see you back again this Spring.

    Reply
    1. John Post author

      Thanks. We spend the holidays with family and take a break from blogging (i.e. not much to blog about).

      Reply

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