Bandelier National Monument
Trip Start May 06, 2010
137Trip End Oct 14, 2010
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We drove to Bandelier National Monument. Upon arrival we went to the Visitor Center, got maps and watched the movie about the park. Like many of our National Parks, Bandelier's basic infrastructure was built by the CCC. In fact, the 32 CCC buildings are the largest assemblage of CCC buildings in the country and have been made a National Historic Landmark.
We then hiked the Main Loop Trail, which leaves from the Visitor Center. The Main Loop Trail first goes to the ruins of the Ancestral Pueblo town of Tyuonyi. Unlike most Ancestral Pueblo towns I've seen, Tyuonyi is not built into the side of a cliff. It was a somewhat circular town on the floor of a canyon. The Main Loop trail then goes by lots of Cliff Dwellings built into the soft volcanic tuff rock. These are a little more reminiscent of the ruins at Canyon de Chelly and Mesa Verde in that they are built into the sides of cliffs but the Bandelier ruins are quite different. Canyon de Chelly and Mesa Verde, for the most part, are stone buildings built in natural openings in the sides of cliffs. The buildings at Bandelier are small rooms dug into the soft stone of the cliff face that, in many cases, were behind stone buildings built against the front of the cliff.
Someone passing us on the trail mentioned having seen a rattlesnake a short distance back. She told us where she had seen it. We were very familiar with the location since we had been sitting at the bench where she said it was just shortly before. I went back to look for it and found it just a few feet from the bench. It was a roughly four-foot Western Diamondback. I took a few pictures and avoided getting bitten.
After finishing our hike we drove New Mexico Route 4 from Bandelier through the towns of La Cueva and Jemez Springs to San Ysidro. This route is very scenic with lots of aspen getting their fall colors, interestingly eroded cliffs and a volcanic caldera. We saw a little wildlife including a herd of elk, although it was off in the distance.