Bandelier National Monument Travel Guide

  • View from the mesa top
    View from the mesa top
    by toonsarah
  • Bandelier National Monument
    by toonsarah
  • Bandelier National Monument
    by toonsarah

Bandelier National Monument Highlights

  • Pro
    goodfish profile photo

    goodfish says…

     Gorgeous, spiritual, tons to see and do 

  • Con
    MarkJochim profile photo

    MarkJochim says…

     Crowded during the summer. 

  • In a nutshell
    basstbn profile photo

    basstbn says…

     Fascinating look into an ancient culture; beautiful mountain views 

Bandelier National Monument Things to Do

  • Where to start: Frijoles Canyon Visitor...

    4/25/2012: please see my warning and danger tip about temporary shuttle-only access to the main park starting 6/1/2012!Go figure: I didn't get a shot of the Visitor Center! Oh well. This is where you should begin your visit - and I suggest you get here early because parking fills quickly in the summer. Here is where you gather trail guides, talk to...

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  • Tsankawi: Petroglyphs

    The Ancestral people carved images of animals, anthropomorphic figures, spirals and other shapes into the rock at various places on the mesa. This isn't just decoration: they're believed to have had deep significance to the people of that time and may have been a form of communication, ceremony or worship. The meaning of some of these images are...

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  • Tsankawi: Tsankawi Pueblo Site

    On top of the mesa is the unexcavated village of Tsankawi. It resembled the pueblo at Frijoles Canyon (Tyuonyi) in having had several stories with a central plaza but the layout provided in the guide indicates more than one entrance. It also may have had a reservoir for collecting rainwater: a feature common to villages located far from streams or...

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  • Alcove House

    A junction partway through Main Loop Trail takes you 1/2 mile through the forest to Alcove House: a large shelf in the canyon wall 140 feet above the ground. Here you'll see storage niches and holes in the cave walls left from wooden beams (vigas) that supported long-gone roofs. There is also a reconstructed kiva that you can climb down into via a...

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  • Stop and smell the flowers

    All sorts of wildflowers bloom in the canyon from spring until fall. When we were there in September, most of them were yellow but they also come in blues, lavenders, reds, oranges and pastels. As at any U.S. national or state park, take the daisies home in your camera: picking them is a no-no.

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  • Tsankawi: Cavates

    Just as at the Frijoles Canyon section, you'll see cavates at Tsankawi but those you're allowed to explore are all at ground level: no ladders. By all means crawl in and take a look but be gentle and do check for snakes first. Not all sections with cavates visible from the trail are accessible: stay on the marked paths to avoid potentially unstable...

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  • Tsankawi: Stairways

    The Ancestors who lived here carved or simply wore stairways and toe-trails into the rock to reach different levels of the mesa. You'll see many of these along the way but you're asked not to climb them unless they're clearly marked as part of the trail. Today's footwear is damaging to soft rock originally traveled barefoot or in soft sandals, plus...

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  • On Main Loop Trail: Cavates

    Ancient inhabitants carved out small living, storage and ceremonial alcoves, called cavates, from pockets left in the soft rock layer of volcanic ash (tuff) deposited during a massive eruption a million years ago. Ceilings were smoke-cured to reduce crumbling of the tuff, and the lower sections of walls were plastered and painted. These alcoves...

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  • Tsankawi

    Don't miss this one! Tsankawi (sank-ah-WEE) is a fascinating part of Bandelier that's 12 miles from the main Frijoles Canyon section. Like Frijoles Canyon, you'll find cavates, petroglyphs and the ruin (unexcavated) of a pueblo. Unlike the main park, you're up on a mesa - with fantastic views - instead of down in a canyon. You're also going to have...

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  • Main Loop Trail

    This is the most popular walk in the park as it's short (1.2 miles RT), very scenic, paved, and includes a lot of archeological sites. Starting at the Visitor Center, a self-guided tour takes you past a large kiva, the ruin of an ancient pueblo, cliff and cave dwellings, petroglyphs and pictographs. A guide for 21 numbered sites can be purchased at...

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  • On Main Loop Trail: Tyuonyi

    Constructed in the middle of the canyon floor near Frijoles Creek instead of the southern wall, Tyuonyi (chew-OHN-yee) was a predecessor of today's pueblos and one of several found at Bandelier. This is the only one they've excavated as the elements are hard on fragile ruins and descendants of the Ancients prefer to leave ancestral homes alone:...

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  • Falls Trail

    This very scenic trail follows much of Frijoles Creek as it drops 700 vertical feet into the Rio Grande. Beginning at Backpacker's Parking Lot - near the Visitor Center - the 2.5 mile (one way) trail descends Frijoles Canyon into White Rock Canyon past two waterfalls, interesting rock formations and panoramic views up-canyon and down: highly...

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  • Tsankawi: The mesa top and village

    From the mesa top you have an almost 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape, including several mountain ranges. To the west (your left) lie the Jemez Mountains, with Los Alamos at their foot. To the east (ahead of you) are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (named for the Blood of Christ) and the Rio Grande Valley. About 70 miles south are the...

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  • Tsankawi: the cavates

    You will be able to see the cavates dotted along the face of the mesa quite early in your walk, but the trail at first leads away from these to climb up to the village above. It is only when you descend from there that you get a close look at the other places the ancients called home. The inhabitants dug these caves out of the soft rock, extending...

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  • Tsankawi: petroglyphs

    In several places along the trail you can see petroglyphs, although many have been damaged by exposure to the elements over the centuries – and no doubt by exposure to people too. Petroglyphs are designs carved into the stone, like the man (I think it’s a man!) in my second photo and the shapes in the first and third. The trail leaflet explains...

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Bandelier National Monument Transportation

  • Getting to Tsankawi

    Photo taken looking back towards the parking area Getting to Tsankawi is impossible without a private vehicle. It lies twelve miles from the main section of Bandelier National Monument and isn’t the easiest place to find. The park’s website gives the following directions: “Coming from Santa Fe you'll turn from State Highway 502 to State Highway 4....

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  • Arriving by car

    Bandelier is located 12 miles east of Los Alamos and 48 miles northwest of Santa Fe. To arrive there by car from Santa Fe, take US285/84 north to NM502 west. From NM502, take NM4 south to the main entrance of the park.

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  • Bandelier National Monument Hotels

    0 Hotels in Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument Local Customs

  • Preserving the Past

    I always hate to bring this up as mentioning the need to tread gently and respectfully to VT members is sort of preaching to the choir. Unfortunately vandalism, theft of artifacts and damage to fragile ecological sites is such a problem for our National Parks that they can use all the help they can get. Many thousands of ancient, sacred...

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  • Tailgating the Bandelier Way

    On a warm sunny weekend afternoon, the lines of cars waiting to get into the park can extend more than 2 miles from the gate. Because the parking lot in the canyon is so small, it will not hold many vehicles and will fill up quickly. If you don't have much time or don't want to wait, come later on weekends or any weekday. But if you'd like to...

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Bandelier National Monument Warnings and Dangers

  • IMPORTANT: Fire damage report

    UPDATE AS OF JAN 10, 2013The 2011 Las Conchas forest fire damaged 60% of the park area in Frijoles Canyon and left other parts vulnerable to flash flooding due to lack of vegetation. IMPORTANT - FROM THE NPS WEBSITE:"Currently (through November 17, 2012) all access to Frijoles Canyon (the main visited area of the park including the visitor center...

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  • Critters!

    Seeing wildlife is a highlight for many visitors to Bandelier but it's better to connect with them with your camera than with your bumper or some tender part of your person! Keep an eye out for deer on your drive in, and snakes above/under/around anywhere you place a foot/hand. The hikers some yards ahead of us on Falls Trail came around a...

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  • Weather

    Different seasons at Bandelier can bring weather-related challenges. Summers are sunny, hot and dry and some trails, such as Main Loop, have little shade so bringing lots of water, hats and sunscreen is a must. Sudden afternoon thunderstorms with heavy downpours and dangerous lighting are also common. If you see one coming, it's good to get off of...

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Bandelier National Monument Tourist Traps

  • ATXtraveler's Profile Photo

    by ATXtraveler Written Apr 24, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sometimes when you are walking on the paths in Bandelier National Monument, you will run into a few deer that are begging for backsheesh, food, or other tokens of appreciation from you as a tourist. Remember, it is best not to give in to their demands, and instead just ignore them. If you feed one, you will just have many more flocking to you. In this particular case, this deer was acting coy, like he didn't really want the sweet sweet corn I had in my hand, but we knew better.

    No corn for you today, Mr. Deer. No corn for you.

    Fun Alternatives: The alternative is to feed the animals, and then have them follow you through the forest like you were Snow White.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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Bandelier National Monument What to Pack

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Kiva, Alcove House, Bandelier

    by goodfish Written Jul 29, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Small backpack - you'll want your hands free for climbing ladders.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Sturdy shoes with a good tread, hat, rain gear for sudden thundershowers (a garbage bag will do)

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bandaids, moleskin, insect repellent, antiseptic, sunscreen, wet wipes

    Photo Equipment: Extra memory chip and charged battery

    Miscellaneous: Sunglasses, water bottles, munchies for the trail and a small bag for packing up any garbage. Beverages and food are available at the park's snack shop but it's usually much cheaper to bring your own.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park
    • Archeology

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Bandelier National Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • Jemez Mountains

    Tired of the hot dry low country of New Mexicoa and Los Alamos? If so, take a ride up into the Jemez Mountains. The Jemez Mountain Trail loops around the south side of this extinct volcanoe. Located at the top of the mountain is a huge caldera of mountain meadows. Warm breezes temper the otherwise cooler climate in among the peaks. Scenic trails,...

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  • Backcountry for the Day

    Bandelier includes over 35,000 acres of wilderness. While we think of wilderness in terms of wild animals and a landscape unaffected by human impacts, Bandeliers is different. Nearly every acres of the park is an archeological treasure. It is all protected under the Federal Archeological Resource Protection Act or ARPA. So, please leave what you...

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  • Frijoles Canyon Water Falls

    This is said to be the favorite trail of Robert Redford . He has a place over in the opera district of Santa Fe and is known for coming to the park to get away. The trail starts across Frijoles Creek from the Visitor Center/Musem. You'll have to walk to the east end of the parking area. The trail starts out on the level canyon floor, following the...

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Bandelier National Monument Favorites

  • Baby Backpack

    One of the best things we invested in for this trip was a baby backpack, which enabled Anna to enjoy her time at Bandelier without having to walk, trip and fall all the way through the trails. This particular backpack here was perfect for me, as it strapped on easily, was very comfortable, and her weight really did not irritate my walking pace. I...

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  • See the living Culture of Pueblo Life

    Bandelier is the ancestral home of the San Ildefonso Pueblo (Tsankawi) and the Chochiti Pueblo (Yapashi). It is also has a sacred site - Stone Lions - that several different Pueblos honor. So stop and see one of the many pueblos in the valley. Respect the local signs that require you to either register at the Council Office, or prohibit entry...

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  • Let your imagination run free ...

    A closeup of the eroded surface of the cliffs. It is hard not to see a "picture" in the stone. It is also important to see the details as well as enjoy the stunning views. The fall foliage and the quiet in the early morning.

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Comments

 
Explore Deeper into Bandelier National Monument
It’s not quite as easy as they say
Warnings and Dangers
Park Entry
Things to Do
Visitor Center
Things to Do
Museum - History both old and new :)
Things to Do
Walk the paths and breathe the history .....
Things to Do
Long way down
Warnings and Dangers
Tour the Tyuonyi
Things to Do
Main Loop Trail
Things to Do
Climb a ladder...
Things to Do
Start at the Visitor Center
Things to Do
Getting about the site...
Warnings and Dangers
Talus Houses
Things to Do
Cliff Dwellings
Things to Do
Village of Tyuonyi
Things to Do
Tyounyi Pueblo
Things to Do
Whiterock's Overlook Park
Things to Do
Tsankawi Pueblo
Off The Beaten Path
Tyuonyi Overlook on Frijoles Canyon
Off The Beaten Path
Cliff (Cave) Dwellings
Things to Do
CCC and Mexican Architecture
Things to Do
Frey Trail from the Campground into the Canyon
Things to Do
Hiking in the ruins
Things to Do
Wheelchair accessible? I think not!
Warnings and Dangers
Backcountry, Anyone?
Off The Beaten Path
At the cliffs
Things to Do
Tyuoni
Things to Do
Talus Houses
Things to Do
Kiva
Things to Do
The ladders to the Ceremonial Cave
Things to Do
A view of the Tyounyi pueblo from the cliffs
Things to Do
Up in the Cliffs
Things to Do
The Anasazi Caves
Things to Do
The Cliffs are "tuff" :)
Things to Do
A more complete view of the Tyuonyi Pueblo plaza
Things to Do
Tyuonyi Pueblo
Things to Do
Ceremonial Cave
Things to Do
Petroglyphs & Pictographs
Things to Do
Cliff Dwellings
Things to Do
Tyuonyi Pueblo Ruins
Things to Do
Visitor's Information
Favorites
Map of Bandelier National Monument

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