Bandelier National Monument is located just outside of Los Alamos, New Mexico and makes for a great day trip when visiting nearby Santa Fe. The indigenous people that lived in the area dating back some 10,000 years, enjoyed the rugged arid landscape due in part to the the flowing streams and beautiful canyons.
Many of the ruins in Frijoles Canyon have been excavated, studied and preserved. The main loop trail from the visitor center passes by several types of restored dwellings, many of which welcome visitors to explore. There are miles of trails, some are even paved to make a few of the sites more accessible.
The highlight of the park for me was the trek to the “Alcove House,” which was about a 4-5 miles round trip, then required a 140 foot climb up a four tier series of ladders. This climb is not for the faint-of-heart. I however find these things extremely exciting. Unfortunately there was some sort of filed trip of kids at the park and I got caught in some pretty good congestion climbing both up and down. Once reaching the top tier you enter a massive cliff dwelling with sweeping views of the canyon below. There was also a kiva (an underground ceremonial structure) at the top, which visitors are allowed to enter and explore.
After retreating from the “Alcove House” and cluster of youngsters, I made my way to an area that provided some solace…the banks of the Frijoles Creek, which runs through the canyon with the same name. There are 33,000 acres within the Bandelier park, plenty of space to enjoy and explore.
Bandelier National Monument is open year-round with late spring and summer being the busiest times, however at the time of writing this post, the park continues to be closed until further notice. Just weeks after I visited Bandelier, there was a massive forest fire (The Las Conchas Fire) that unfortunately burned over 60% of the park, much of which is right in Frijoles Canyon where the visitors center resides. One of the concerns is that the fire destroyed so much vegetation that the area is prone to flash flooding and is too dangerous to allow visitors. This is very sad as Bandelier is certainly one of our national treasures. Hopefully the park won’t be closed too long, but at this point it could be quite some time before visitors are allowed back. Click here to check the status.
WikiTravel has created a wonderful outline of all the various information one could hope for to plan a trip to Bandelier. Click the following link if you’d like to see more of my pictures of Bandelier. If you’ve been to the Bandelier National Monument, please let my readers and me know what you like best.
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