Bandelier Monument is a popular stop off for many tourists, and with good reason. My husband, Mark and I visited on a day trip out of Santa Fe and we were not disappointed! In fact it was a high point of this vacation. Bandelier is located about 45 minutes Northwest of Santa Fe and fits in well with a visit to the White Rock overlook and a stop in Los Altos.
This park is located in an impressive Canyon. The main trail is a two-mile long circular route around the canyon. Off of that loop there are several branches with trails where you can see ruins, climb hills, or just walk really really far. In total, there are over 70 miles of trails. It gets hotter here than in Santa Fe, so dress accordingly and bring plenty of water. Between the dry climate, the heat , and the elevation, you will need to stay hydrated. Along the trails, you will see ruins from the Pueblos dating back over 1000 years. It is fantastic!
View from above of the Pueblo ruins
In the base of the canyon, you see the remains of a kiva (ceremonial sight of unkown purpose) and a village. You can walk through the ruins, and also view from above. By the way, the climb up to view the lower dwellings and to take in this view did not bother us , and we are apprehensive about heights.
After walking a little further along the trail, you will see the cliff dwellings where some of these Pueblo Indians lived. They have put ladders there for you to peek in. This was super interesting, and not scary either.
A few of the dwellings were rebuilt so that you could get an idea of what they may have looked like back in the day.
Further along the trail, is an add-on loop that goes to “Alcove House” . This is a very nice walk, until you come to the sign above. They are not kidding! If you look at the photo on the right, you can see an array of ladders, which grow increasingly narrow the higher you get. They will bring you all the way to the top for a fantastic view. At least I was told it is a great view… we didn’t get farther than the first ladder!
This is really a great place to visit, for the nature and for the ruins. Breathtaking. If you go, be sure to bring a lot of water, excellent walking shoes and sun protection. I think a picnic lunch would be wonderful here. We didn’t think of that, and so we ate at the Pig and Fig bakery located almost directly across the street from the White Rock visitors center. Our paninis were fantastic! However, next time, we are packing a lunch.
To access the park there are two ways. There is a main visitors center. You can see Mark in front of it at the top of this article. That visitor center is right on the main trail and you can park there. The trick is that you are only allowed to drive down to the center before 9 am. After that , you must park at the White Rock Center and take a 20 minute shuttle ride down to the canyon. The signage on the way in would suggest that you always must park at White Rock, but that is not true. I AM WARNING YOU if you are the type of person who gets nervous driving on windy and narrow mountain roads, then take the shuttle. You can just close your eyes until it is over! Believe me when I tell you that we both were very happy not to be driving this road.