Bandelier National Monument

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Oct 26, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hampton Inn

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Leaving Taos we followed the Rio Grande River for a bit, traveling south and then east into the beautiful Jemez Mountains, more densely forested than we expected and displaying subtle hues of greens and yellow against pink rock.  

Our destination is Bandelier National Monument that lies in close proximity to Los Alamos. We pass numerous restricted areas on the drive to the monument and climb to the top of the canyon.   Human history in Frijoles Canyon extends back for over 10,000 years when nomadic hunter-gatherers followed migrating wildlife across the mesas and canyons.  Ancestral Pueblo people began to build more permanent settlements by 1150 and reminders of these are still evident in the park and visible via a trail that runs along the wall of the canyon.   Walking the trail we first encounter a reconstructed kiva (religious structure) open to view and in the center of what was once an Anasazi village. Kivas were constructed underground and entered by a ladder placed through a hole in the roof. We walked along the canyon wall dotted with cave dwellings above us; ladders had been placed to enable us to glance inside the rooms.  Petroglyphs and Pictoglyps are still visible on the walls.

Further along the canyon floor is Alcove House, a large shelter cave some 300 feet above the canyon floor. The large cave was inhabited by as many as 23 families between 250 A.D. and 1600 A.D..  A large kiva sits at one end of the cave.  A series of sturdy wooden ladders bolted into the lava rock connect the cave to the valley floor. It offers wonderful views of the canyon; George scurried up the 140 vertical feet of ladders and walkways capture the view.  Bandelier is quite impressive and the walk back from Alcove house was most pleasant as it followed the river with shade provided by the cottonwood trees.

We drove back to White Rock for the night.
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