Located in the Los Alamos County in New Mexico, Bandelier National Monument covers an area of 33, 677 acres that preserves several thousand of Ancestral Puebloan dwellings. Known for its mesas and sheer-walled canyons, the Bandelier National Monument offers great hiking and sightseeing opportunities.
Bandelier’s history dates back to more than 10,000 years, with the area being traversed by nomadic hunters; thereafter the Ancient Puebloans made permanent dwelling structures, several of which are visible even today. Today, visitors can explore the remnants of these historic dwellings. In addition, visitors explore the long and short walking trails.
Things to do Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier National Monument Guided Tour
Guided tours are conducted from July to September on the Main Loop trail. The ranger-led walk to the Tyuonyi Pueblo lets you learn about the history, culture, and fauna of the Bandelier National Monument. The tour lasts for about 1.5 hours and starts at the visitor center. During other times of the year, guided walks are also available, with schedules available at the visitor center.
Explore on Your Own – Main Loop Trail
The Bandelier National Monument Main Loop Trail is a short 1.2-mile loop that takes you past several archaeological sights and two cave dwellings. Visitors can climb ladders to explore the caves along the way. With 21 stops along the way, this makes for an interesting walk filled with the history of the region.
The Falls Trail
The Falls Trail is another interesting walk of 1.5miles. The trail descends towards the Upper Falls and is one of the most beautiful trails in the entire area. Steep drop-offs at certain points during the trail require visitors to be cautious on this route.
Burnt Mesa Trail
To enjoy the flora of the area, embark on the five-mile round trip Burnt Mesa Trail. It’s an easy trail to cover and you can see summer wildflowers, birds and butterflies in abundance.
Cerro Grande Trail
To check out the highest pointing he park, take the Cerro Grand Trail that winds up to the Cerro Grande Peak. Covering a distance 4.6 miles, the trail goes to an elevation of 1200 feet and passes mixed conifer forests. This trail is recommended for more experienced hikers.
If you are interested in a long, adventurous hike, then opt for the hike through the backcountry of the Bandelier National Monument. While the entire area offers 70 miles of trails, the longer hikes last for about 12 miles, round trip, and cover different areas of the park.
The Frijoles Canyon and Rim Trail, which is a popular 8-mile (one way) hike from the visitor center where you can enjoy expansive views of Northern New Mexico’s mountain ranges. Another option is a 12-mile day hike to Yapashi Pueblo. It’s a strenuous hike but worth it for the views.
Camping Juniper Family Campground
There are three different camping options in the Bandelier National Monument. Located by the entrance to the Bandelier National Monument is the Juniper Family Campground, ideal for smaller families. There are three loops in this campground, and reservations aren’t required as the campground is seldom full. There are restrooms at each loop with running water.
Ponderosa Group Campground
Ponderosa Group Campground is at a height of 7600 feet, and accessible from six miles west of the park entrance. This is a popular campground with visitors, and reservations are required. This campground is ideal for groups of 10 people or more.
Bandelier Monument Backcountry Camping
Backcountry camping is recommended for seasoned campers, and permits are required. As the terrain is rough and unpredictable in certain areas, trail conditions must be considered before you decide to camp in the backcountry.
Getting to Bandelier Monument
There is a parking lot at the Frijoles Canyon Visitor Center however from mid-May to mid-October a Shuttle runs from the White Rock Visitor Center located at 115 State Rd 4, White Rock, New Mexico. Bandelier Bandelier Monument is 100-miles northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico, about a two-hour drive. 43-miles from Santa Fe New Mexico, about a one-hour drive. Park entrance fee is $25.00.