After a tumultuous drought season in New Mexico with record fires, we’ve finally received some much needed rain. The monsoon season arrived in June and gave our national forests some relief. Many of our national forests, state parks and many other trails had been closed to the public due to fire safety. I am happy to say that most if not all are now open. Joe and I couldn’t be happier and anxious to get back up north where the weather is cooler amid so many beautiful hiking trails. Bandelier National Monument is an archaeological site with the remains of cliff dwellings nestled in the Frijoles Canyon. Along the Pueblo Loop trail you will see the tall cliffs that provide natural caves large enough for shelter which we were able to enter by climbing ladders. Some of these ladders are quite high and not for the faint of heart if you have a fear of heights. Halfway through the loop trail is the Alcove House which is a ceremonial cave with a reconstructed kiva. After we successfully climbed to the Alcove House we made the loop back and took the Frey Trail to the top of the Frijoles Rim Mesa where we enjoyed stunning views of the canyon and the layout of the circular remains of a pueblo village below. There are numerous trails within and surrounding the Frijoles Canyon from easy short trails to strenuous long distance trails that you can backpack with a permit. For now I hope you will enjoy our trip to Bandelier National Monument, who knows, you may want to explore it too!
The Pueblo Loop Trail begins at the visitor center to the excavated dwellings. As you begin along the trail the first point of interest is the Talus House, an Ancestral Pueblo home that was reconstructed in 1920.
A closer look shows the pueblo home snuggled up against the high cliff. Also you can see the inside with windows and vigas.
Next, continue on a paved stair path that leads to a more natural cave shelter.
If you climb the ladder you will see the inside of the cave dwelling.
These caves served as shelter with enough room to build a fire as evidenced from the black charred walls inside.
This cave dwelling has an adobe touch with a window.
As we walk towards the Alcove House, we can see in the distance the ladders where people are climbing to the cave above. This is the main attraction if you don’t mind climbing or heights. The park rangers suggest that if you have any fear of heights or health issues, this might not be for you. It’s pretty amazing and I would highly recommend going. At this time they are limiting 15 people at a time due to erosion. We went early and only had a few minutes wait to climb up.
Timing is everything, the sun was peeking over the ladder. Lets do this!
Looking up the next ladder with the overhang of the cave to the right. Such a beautiful sight already.
Here are some pics within the Alcove House. As you enter the cave, look to the right to see the cliffside view. The kiva is the focal point but you can see see that there was a pueblo dwelling within the cave based on the kiva holes in the rock. Plus I captured a heart by looking up!
Here are some pics along the Pueblo Loop Trail and the Frey Trail.