Hike Off the Beaten Path at Bandelier National Monument

August 5, 2013 by

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument is a great destination for nature lovers, hikers, campers, and history lovers who want to get away from it all. With more than 33,000 acres, it offers rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa landscapes.

The rock cliffs also include petroglyphs, and dwellings carved into the soft rock. Masonry walls still standing are evidence of a human culture that dates back more than 11,000 years.

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument

70 Miles of Trails

Bandelier National Monument is a lesser known park that offers more than 70 miles of trails. A few of the trails lead to first-hand views of ancient ruins, others carry hikers into the canyon wilderness along the mesa. The most visited trail is the 1.2 mile Main Loop Trail which is a perfect choice for all skill levels.

Summers in Bandelier are hot and dry in June, but plan for afternoon thunderstorms in July and August. In late summer (July, August and September) biting insects are uncommon so you won’t have to pack bug spray in your backpack, but hikers should carry plenty of drinking water and wear a hat and sunscreen.

Bandelier National Monument

Ancient Civilization

The park also offers a unique opportunity to witness an example of an ancient culture and see petroglyphs on the walls of the Frijoles Canyon.

Traces of the Ancestral Pueblo people who had lived there date back to hunter/gather times and visitors have a uniqe opportunity to learn how they progressed from the cliffs to pueblos along the Rio Grande.

Kids and their families can learn fun facts such as how these people made blankets from wet turkey feathers twisted into yucca twine.

Renovations and Closures

If you plan to visit the park during the summer of 2013 there are two areas of the park that are closed due to natural erosion. One popular site, the kiva in Alcove House has experienced structural safety problems and is being repaired, but the ladders into Alcove House are still open.

The 3-mile round trip Falls Trail is still open but since the flood of 2011, the trail beyond the Upper Falls to the Rio Grande is closed due to erosion. A part of the trail that once followed along the ledge collapsed and closed off access to the area beyond the Upper Falls.

Hiking in Bandelier offers a wilderness experience, but it is best to plan long hikes early in the day before the thunderstorms crop up in the afternoon.

Photo credits: AndrewEick, GOC53, larryncelia

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