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Bandelier National Monument

New Mexico

On the Pajarito Plateau -- 10 miles from the town of Los Alamos -- successive groups of prehistoric Indians lived, hunted and farmed. The earliest occupation by natives is dated from about 2010 BC, with later development around 670 bc. The Archaic People, as they are known, were nomadic hunters, moving about in family groups.

By 1300 AD, the Anasazi had left the Four Corners region and some had moved into Frijoles Canyon. They built large pueblo structures in the canyon as well as small villages on the mesas where they grew crops. They also farmed on the bottomland of the canyon, growing beans, squash, and corn. With ample supplies of game and fertile farmlands, the Pajaritan culture survived here for 300 years. Cliff dwellings were carved out of volcanic tuff above the creek.These settlements comprise the area preserved in Bandelier National Monument.

There was much volcanic activity in the formation of the Jemez Mountains. Prime evidence of this is Valle Grande, the huge caldera seen from Highway 4 west of Bandelier. There are several hot springs in the region which add to the pleasure of a visit to this significant historic site.

Bandelier and the area near Los Alamos was the scene of the great Year 2000 fire which devastated part of the town and the park. The fire did not impact the sections of the park most visited by tourists.

How to Get There

The monument is 46 miles west of Santa Fe via U.S. 285/84 north to Pojoaque, and then west on N.M. Route 4 for another 24 miles. From Albuquerque, drive north on I-25 and U.S. Hwy. 85 to Santa Fe and take U.S. Route 285/84 and Highway 4. Total mileage from Albuquerque to the ruins in 105 miles.

The Park

Bandelier National Monument contains fascinating ruins of the early Pueblo dwellers, including the Tyuonyi Pueblo, the Ceremonial Cave and -- by a mile-long trail -- the Frijolito Ruin. Named for one of the first European discoverers of the site, Adolph F. Bandelier, the monument attracts thousands of people each year. A businessman consumed with the study of native cultures, Bandelier became an explorer and researcher and is considered to be the first anthropologist of the Southwest region. Today's visitors are left in awe, as was Bandelier, at the complex culture that developed in Frijoles Canyon.

Park Trails

The visitor center is located at the end of the entrance road, at the beginning of Frijoles Canyon, with the Tyuonyi Pueblo nearby. An interpretive trail leads to the cave dwellings, and the Ceremonial Cave is reached by climbing a series of ladders farther along. You can also hike in the canyon to the Rio Grande. Seventy miles of trails lead into the backcountry, giving hikers and backpackers entry to a huge wilderness area that is part of the monument preserve. Permits are required to travel these trails, which lead to remote canyons and additional ruins. A hike to the Stone Lions shrine offers a 12-mile round trip. Painted Cave is reached via a 20-mile round trip.

Tsankiwi Pueblo

A separate unit of the monument is located along Route 4, 11 miles north of the main entrance road. Tsankiwi is a mesa-top pueblo that has been left in an unexcavated state. A trail leads across these ruins and beside another set of cave dwellings.

Camping & Services

The park campground is on the mesa at the main site (just below the entrance from Route 4) and a picnic area is located beside Frijoles Creek. The visitor center includes a small museum in addition to a snack bar and gift shop.

You'll find shopping and places to stay in nearby Los Alamos and White Rock. Additional campgrounds are found in recreation areas west of the national monument, along Highway 4.



New Mexico Destinations




Bandelier National Monument

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Chaco Culture National Historic Park



Los Alamos



Santa Fe

Silver City





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