"Bandelier National Monument" Top 5 Page for this destination Bandelier National Monument by goodfish

Bandelier National Monument Travel Guide: 81 reviews and 189 photos

We'd stumbled on Bandelier in 1999 on a drive up to nearby Los Alamos, and the breathtaking scenery brought us back - with our hiking gear - for a closer look in 2008. As much as we accomplished in a day, there was a lot more yet to explore so I knew we'll be back.

Got'er done in 2016. Things had changed a bit since since the Las Conchas fire of 2011 and a significant flood event in 2013 but all but one trail in the main park was still fully accessible (see my Falls Trail review) and the Tsankawi unit was thankfully untouched so we nailed a new trail and re-traced a few we'd done before.

Members of the Cochiti Pueblo brought anthropologist/historian Adolph Bandelier to their ancestral home in Frijoles Canyon in 1880. His fledgling exploration of a region that had seen hunter/gatherers as far back as 10,000 years ago drove the efforts of another archeologist, Edgar Hewitt, to preserve the ruins of indigenous farmers who settled the canyon around 1150 AD and then moved on in the mid 1500's to form several of today's Puebloan communities.

This beautiful, 33,000 acre National Monument offers 70 miles of hiking trails, camping, backpacking, ranger-led walks, cross-country skiing, picnicking and a small museum. Trails range from an easy loop of just over a mile to strenuous 22-mile treks into backcountry archeological sites, and from strolls on paved paths to scrambles up long ladders into cliff-side alcoves.

An easy 1-hour drive from Santa Fe, this is a terrific activity for just about any age and ability. At the very least make the drive/take the shuttle into the canyon for a wander of the ruins on Main Loop trail, and another to the fascinating Tsankawi section, about 12 miles from the main area of the park. The Visitor Center has maps, permits and lots of helpful information: make it your first stop!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Gorgeous, spiritual, tons to see and do
  • Cons:None
  • Last visit to Bandelier National Monument: Apr 2016
  • Intro Updated May 21, 2016
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Reviews (19)

Comments (10)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    May 21, 2016 at 6:28 AM

    Great updates to this page Kate! Reminds me of why I liked Tsankawi so much, and how much I wish we'd been able to visit the main part of the park

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      May 21, 2016 at 7:12 AM

      Me too - I can also think of one more detail to fish out and add, or get side-tracked when researching ;-) I'll look out for more of your new stuff!

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      May 21, 2016 at 7:23 AM

      Glad I'm not alone! There's always another detail, it seems.

  • GuthrieColin's Profile Photo
    Oct 28, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    Gotta love ruins!

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Oct 30, 2012 at 5:27 AM

      Hiya, Colin!! You bet - I love ruins. And It's always fun to hear from another fellow hiker - thanks a bunch for stopping by!!!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    This looks like a really fascinating place to visit. Fine texts and photos, as always!

  • Feb 25, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Stop and smell the flowers...so lovely and surprising for a page on Bandelier Monument. I haven't been in the Jemez since the big fire last year- I just wonder how the area held up.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Thank you for the helpful info about the fire closures and about Tsankawi - we will definitely check that out as an alternative. DO yo expect it will be more crowded with the main part of the park closed?

  • glabah's Profile Photo
    Jun 29, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Was it the tourists that slithered off into the brush, or the snake?? Just kidding. Another great page, and photos, and understand better now your feelings about the fire.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Mar 15, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    Hadn't heard of this National Monument, and what a surprise it was! Very interesting writings and photo's, would like to see the cavates and viga holes in the cliffs, looks an amazing area!

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    It reads as though you saw a lot and the hiking was wonderful. The scenery is great and comment enhance your trip to the area.

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Nov 19, 2009 at 3:42 AM

    Oh Wow! I have GOT to visit Bandelier. I will however, bring RedRover! Thanks for the birthday wishes. Was hard at work in my office, dreaming of places I'd rather be...well...of to Moab again next year for the trails.

  • giampiero6's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2009 at 8:47 AM

    holy catfish! another phenomenal page!


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