Exploring Bandelier National Monument

Share post

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
Heading to the Long House – anybody home?

A visit to Santa Fe isn’t complete without a stop at Bandelier National Monument, one of my favorite places to explore in New Mexico. It is the home of the Ancestral Puebloans and dates back to 1100 AD. What stands out most about this beautiful place is the large canyon walls, carved out for shelter and storage by these native people.

The National Park allows you to really climb up and explore the area, so take a walk with me through this fantastic monument!

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
The Visitor’s Center

The Park’s Visitor’s Center dates back to the 1930’s (along with all the roads and trails), and is a nice place to stop and grab a drink, map and use the restrooms. The little complex is made up of several buildings, including a gift shop and a small cafΓ©, and there’s a little wooded area in the shade for picnics. You can also camp here overnight with a permit.

The main hike starts from behind the ranger building and is a complete loop trail. Let’s go!

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
In my Southwestern garb, complete with my favorite boots that have travelled near and far with me

A short walk through the woods will take you to the first stop – The Talus Houses, or cliff dwellings. This is one of the coolest spots in the whole monument. The rocks have been carved into small dwellings along the canyon and a web of ancient footpaths are still used to take you up the side of the cliffs.

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
Sitting at the entrance to one of the dwellings

You can see how much of the rock has been weathered away. Some of the caves were naturally formed, others have been carved out over time.

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
Narrow passageways up the rock are both beautiful and strategic

Weathering from wind and water created foot-holes and paths along the cliffside. Some of these were used to get to lookout locations, and in other places, holes were carved purposefully, each an arms length away from the next.

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument

Climbing up a big ladder into the caves, you can see the simplicity of living inside one of these dwellings. Smoke remnants still blacken the ceiling, and vents were carved for air circulation. Looking out of the cave are the remains of the Tyuonyi, a circular pueblo village on the Frijoles canyon floor. Historians found that both cave and pueblo would have been used around the same time.

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument

Next stop, the Long House, on the next canyon wall. This was a huge building that was erected alongside the cliffs – today the base is all that remains.

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
Remains of the Long House

I love the patterns made by the ruins and carved dwellings along the cliffside. Some look like faces, while others remain ominous and in shadow. Small holes along the canyon wall are where the Long House was attached to the rock, making the structure several stories high.

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
Jon, for scale, along side the Frijoles canyon walls and the Long House ruins
She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
Make sure you don’t get too up close and personal with the cacti here!
She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument

And soon, it’s time to leave again as we catch the last light of the day.

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier is a breathtaking National Park, full of history, geography and color – as is much of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Southwest. I never tire of the desert landscape and I hope I’ll be back to visit many more times!

Learn more about Bandelier and all of the wonderful National Parks here! Do you have any favorites that you like to visit? Share with me in the comments below!

Outfit Details:Β Mara Hoffman Cape (last seen here), J.Crew Chambray, Janessa Leone Hat (similar), Baggu Tote, Current/Elliot Jeans, J.Crew Boots (ancient), Rag & Bone Belt (similar)

She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
Heading back to the Visitor’s Center…
She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument
She's So Bright - Exploring Bandelier National Monument

You may also like