Cueva de la Olla

Cueva de la Olla Archaeological Zone

Useful Information

Location: Nuevo Casas Grandes.
From Casas Grandes to Mesa del Huracán, at kilometer 60 dirt road 6 km to the Casa Blanca ranch. Private road 1 km to the cave.
(30.151756, -108.324941)
Open: All year Tue-Sun 10-16.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyRiver Cave SubterraneaCave House
Light: bring torch
Dimension: Portal: H=3 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Cueva de la Olla, Nuevo Casas Grandes, Tel: +52-1-614-410-3948.
INAH Chihuahua Center, Tel: +52-1-614-4-10-39-48, Tel: +52-1-614-4-10-87-33. E-mail:
Museum of Northern Cultures, Tel: +52-636-69-2-41-40.
Mauricio Salgado, E-mail:
Camino a rancho Casa Blanca, Cueva de la Olla, Casas Grandes, Tel: +52-1-614-410-87-33. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1100 beginning of the Casas Grandes Culture.


Cueva de la Olla (Cave of the Pot) is named after a Cuexcomate, a granary built of clay with a charateritic form. The rounded shape resembles a large vase or looks like a pot or olla in Spanish. Such granaries were discovered in numerous caves sites of the Sierra Madre Occidental. This one, while quite spectacular, is actually not the important thing at this site. The huge cave with its 3 m high portal offered shelter since prehistoric times and the cave sediments revealed a sequence of very long human occupation.

The inhabitation of the cave is separated into three layers. The first is the desert culture which left petroglyphs and cave paintings for ceremonial hunting events. The Mountain Stage left cliff houses, on top of canyons and in caves, also fine ceramic. The Paquimé culture is part of the Mogollon cultures group, lately reclassified as Oasisamerica. This is probably the most important layer, which is subdivided into six stages, some of which are again subdivided. They built the adobe walls, T shaped doors, furnaces, ventilation, a water system, and stairs and ramps.

While this site has remains from all stages, the buildings were erected during the Paquimé culture. Seven rooms and the huge circular barn were built inside the cave of cast adobe. The Cuexcomate is 3.55 m high, so it almost reaches the ceiling of the cave, and has a diameter of 2.5 m. It is located quite prominent in the middle of the cave, which shows its importance for the community. The winters were cold in the mountains, so agriculture was not possible for some time, and it was necessary to store agricultural products in a safe place. It was used to store amaranth seeds, epazote, dasylirion, guaje and others. There is an estimation that it was big enough for food stocks for 170 days. The site was inhabited by a group of about 30 individuals.

The cave is located in the Valle de las Cuevas (Valley of the Caves). There are numerous shelters along the river which were all used in ancient times. Other important caves, which are not accessible, are Cueva de la Laja and Cueva del Rincón. The caves are more or less overhanging rocks that were created by the erosion of the river and are now several metres higher than the river due to the ongoing cutting of the river.