Visiting Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico

Bandelier National Monument New MexicoIf you’ve been to Bandelier National Monument, you’ll want to return for a new attraction. Now you can enjoy a feature film about Bandelier in the Monument’s new theater. The film is a 14 minute introduction to the beauty of Bandelier. The producer, award-winning National Park Service cinematographer, John Grabowska, features the beautiful cliffs and views of the area during the different seasons. You’ll see unusual footage of the area wildlife and come away with a fantastic lead-in to your Bandelier experience.

If you haven’t seen Bandelier, plan a visit during your New Mexico vacation. I especially enjoy Bandelier in the Fall.  The park is located just an hour north of Santa Fe. A visit to Bandelier is a great way to learn about the ancestral pueblo people and envision them in the beautiful valley that is set aside as the National Monument.

Because of the reconstruction of ancestral pueblo cliff dwellings, you can actually climb in to the structures using ladders just as the ancestors did.  You may even have the opportunity to watch archaeologists as they uncover more structures. From the cliff you can oversee an actual Kiva.

The beauty of the park and the unusually accessible ancient structures makes Bandelier a must see!

Visitors Center
The visitors center at Bandelier has displays, a nice book store and a place to purchase a postcard or fridge magnet. There is also a gift shop where you can find some very nice Native American jewelry and pottery. There isBandelier National Monument New Mexico a snack bar and restrooms available. The buildings are interesting in themselves and were constructed as CCC projects.

Open Days and Hours
Bandelier National Monument Visitor Center is open daily except: Closed December 25 and January 1. General hours are: Summer: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Winter: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Spring/Fall: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Park Hours: Frijoles Canyon and Tsankawi are open to recreation from 7 AM – 7 PM. Other day use areas (Cerro Grande, Burnt Mesa, Alamo Boundary, etc) are open from dawn to dusk. Backpacking permits must be obtained for any overnight stays in the park’s backcountry.

Pueblo Structures
The best way to see the structures is to take the Main Loop which leaves from the back of the Visitors Center. This trail will lead you to an impressive group of Ancestral Pueblo dwellings up in Frijoles Canyon. The first part of the trail is easy but if you want to actually climb into the structures, prepare for a bit of climbing, ladder scaling, and narrow stairs. I highly recommend doing this.

Bandelier National Monument New MexicoHistory
Ancestors of the Pueblo people of today lived in the Bandelier area from approximately 1150 CE to 1550 CE. They carved their homes into the cliffs made of volcanic tuff, made bricks of the material and used ladders to access the homes. They planted corn, beans and squash, picked native plants and hunted for meat. Probably due to water shortage, the ancestral puebloans moved down closer to the Rio Grande river some time before 1550.

Bandelier National Monument was visited by Adolph Bandelier in 1880. Bandelier came to New Mexico Territory under the sponsorship of the Archaeological Institute of America. His work laid the foundation for much of Southwestern archaeology.

Bandelier National Monument was created in 1916 as part of a broader Federal effort to protect important archaeological sites. There are many ancestral sites in the Monument that visitors can see, some not far from the Visitors Center.

$12.00 per vehicle. $6.00 per person entrance fee for visitors traveling on foot or bicycle.
National Park fee free days apply to Bandelier.

Ranger-Led Tours
If you want to learn more about what you are seeing, purchase a trail guide or, better yet, go on a free Ranger-guided walk. They will take you along the Main Loop Trail. Other free and fee programs are available. Ask at theBandelier National Monument New Mexico Visitors Center

Getting to Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier is approximately one hour north of Santa Fe.
Directions and Printable Maps

More Information
Bandelier Website

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose