Bandelier National Monument


Bandelier National Monument preserves the rich volcanic soil of the Pajarito Plateau, which provided a bounty of farmland to the ancestral Pueblo (often called Anasazi) who raised squash, corn, and beans here from the 12th to the 16th century. Between the canyons of the Rio Grande and the Jemez Mountains of north central New Mexico, they lived in dwellings as simple as one-room fieldhouses and as complex as the three-story, 400-room Tyuonyi settlement in Frijoles Canyon. In addition to farming, they wove cotton cloth and fashioned exquisitely decorated clay pottery. The first Anglo to visit Frijoles Canyon was Adolf Bandelier in 1880. Guided by Juan Jose Montoya of the Cochiti Pueblo, he explored the area, recorded 166 sites, and collected artifacts, but never excavated any of the sites. In addition to protecting the many archaeological sites, 23,000 acres of Bandelier National Monument are preserved as wilderness area. Backcountry hikers and campers can follow more than 70 miles of trails into the canyons and across the mesa tops. A short trail from the Visitor Center leads to two waterfalls in the deeply chiseled lower portion of Frijoles Canyon. Wildlife abounds. What to see and do: Drop by the Bandelier National Monument Visitor Center and Museum, where introductory programs and interpretive displays offer an overview of the geologic and historical significance of the Pajarito Plateau. Then, set out to explore. A one-mile trail leads from the visitor center up Frijoles Canyon to Talus House, Long House, and Ceremonial Cave. Ladders are provided so you can enter cliff dwellings along the trail, and the path also leads by the elaborate foundations of multi-level structures. Several kivas, structures for ceremonies, meetings, and teaching, are also located along this trail. Longer trails that lead into the wilderness area reward the hardy hiker with a look at Painted Cave, Yapashi and San Miguel archeological sites, and breathtaking vistas of gorges, waterfalls, canyons, mesas, and mountains. No pets are permitted on any trails; wilderness permits available at the Visitor Center are required for overnight hikes; no campfires are permitted in the backcountry. Eleven miles north of the main monument, the detached Tsankawi section of the park offers those with stamina enough to hike the steep, self-guiding trail a glimpse at a large, unexcavated pueblo site and sweeping panoramic views of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Rio Grande valley from the mesa's top. Part of this one-and-a-half-mile loop trail follows ancient native trails, where the rock has been worn into channels as it passes by petroglyphs and cave dwellings. Many of the archaeological sites at Bandelier have ancestral ties to the San Ildefonso and Cochiti Pueblos. Rangers at Bandelier National Monument offer evening programs throughout the summer, along with guided Wednesday night walks and occasional craft demonstrations by Pueblo Indians on weekends. The monument's services also include a gift shop, snack bar, family and group campgrounds, and a picnic area. The nearby communities of Los Alamos and White Rock offer a variety of motels, hotels, and restaurants. From mid-morning to mid-afternoon on summer days and holiday weekends, there is often a waiting line for parking. You can escape crowds with backcountry hiking and remote archeological sites in the designated wilderness area, which comprises 70 percent of the monument. Stop in the visitor center to register and get more information. Bandelier National Monument is 46 miles northwest of Santa Fe.


15 Entrance Road
46 miles northwest of Santa Fe
Los Alamos, NM 87544


35.77678200, -106.26878500
Visit Website
(505) 672-3861

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