Resting on the shelf of the Jemez Mountains Bandelier
National Monument is home to some of the oldest archaeological
remnants found in America today founded by the Anasazi
people. The Anasazi were an ancient civilization that
settled in the area and are the direct decedents of the
more modern day Pueblo people. The sheer-walled canyon
is the first noticeable thing when entering the Bandelier
National Monument area. Immediately you can sense that
this is an ancient and unique place where the history runs deep. Bandelier National Monument has been a point
of fascination for many people interested in the Anasazi
culture and their adept skills and wisdom. Hundreds of
ruins of their cliff houses are located at Bandelier National
Park and lay dispersed across the Pajarito Plateau in
northern New Mexico.
Bandelier National Park can be reached taking many routes but perhaps the nicest road trip to the park is the scenic route from Santa Fe. The route travels 9,000 feet in elevation and provides breathtaking views and perhaps some of the most beautiful scenic backdrops in New Mexico. The landscape of Bandelier National Park is comprised of hilly terrain and defined by deep canyons which were a result of huge volcanic eruptions over 1 million years ago. The monument was named for Adolph Bandelier who was a well-known 19th anthropologist.
There is a really interesting area 11 miles north of the main gate to Bandelier National Park. Tsankawi, which is an independent section of the Monument preserves cave dwellings, numerous petroglyphs and an un-excavated ruin definitely worth checking out. Some activities to take part in are picnicking at the designated areas, camping, bird-watching and hiking the many trails in the area. The main trail takes about 1-2 hours to hike completely depending on skill level and some of it is wheelchair accessible. Most of the trail levels are mild to moderate with the exclusion of the Ceremonial Cave. This cave is reached by a series of solid ladders and goes 140ft straight up the cliff side. The view from the Ceremonial Cave is said to be incredible and with an expansive backdrop.
Los Alamos NM has gained world-wide recognition due to the ancient ruins of Bandelier. Though Los Alamos NM is an interesting city itself, Bandelier National Monument attracts even more interest to the area. Staying in Los Alamos NM and using it as a base to explore the ruins from works is what many visitors decide to do since the drive is short. Entrance fees to Bandelier are $10 USD per car for a seven day permit but be sure to check before booking.
Parking is limited for visitors and there can be up to an hours wait for a parking spot. There are rules and regulations visitors must abide by so be sure to read your brochure carefully The rules are there to keep the area protected and preserved as best it can be and rangers are strict on them so be sure to abide! There is a gift shop and snack bar where light refreshments can be purchased but be sure to bring or purchase plenty of water as the altitude can leave you dehydrated fairly quickly. Consider early spring and fall for your visit to the monument as crowds are fewer and the weather is cooler helping to make exploring more enjoyable.