Bandelier was an easy day trip, less than an hour from Santa Fe. This historic site was similar to the Puye Cliff Dwellings that I visited back in September, in that the park was created to preserve the cave dwellings that Ancestral Pueblo Indians carved into the soft cliffs made of tuff. But the cool part about Bandelier was that you didn’t need a tour guide and there were ladders that took you inside a lot more of the caves. It was less expensive to tour as well.
There were miles of hiking trails to explore within the Frijoles Canyon and I liked the fact that some of them were shaded trails through the woods. One of the harder trails leads to the Frijoles Falls. My friends did not want to hike on this one because of how steep it was, but I could hear the falls off in the distance at certain points as I walked around Bandelier. I would like to go back and check it out one day.
There were also herds of mule deer and some other smaller animals throughout the park (it’s a rarity to see wildlife here in New Mexico for some reason), so that was another added bonus.
The grand finale to the experience was climbing the steps and ladders up to the Alcove House, a ceremonial cave 140 feet above the floor of Frijoles Canyon. While there wasn’t much of a view at the top, there was a reconstructed kiva and the viga holes and niches of former homes. I think the biggest rush for me was overcoming the fear of going all the way to the top!
MORE INFO: www.nps.gov/band