Friday, October 8, 2010

Bandelier National Monument

On Hwy 4 not far from Los Alamos is Bandelier National Monument. The landscape was formed by both sudden volcanic eruptions and the slow forces of erosion.
view of Talus house at the beginning of hike from visitors center
Ancestral Pueblo people lived here for approximately 400 years beginning in 1150 CE. Unlike their nomadic and semi-nomadic predecessors, they built homes and planted crops.
They were also hunters and even had domesticated animals like turkeys and dogs.
Tyuonyi Pueblo
 Their homes were on the canyon floor as seen in Tyuonyi Pueblo, which had approximately 400 rooms. And up against the canyon walls as seen at Talus House. They even used the canyon walls themselves to construct elaborate, multi-story cliff dwellings.

There are many animals in Bandelier including 13 species of bats, which use this cave as a roost.
Long House Cave

And we saw this footprint near the edge of the stream while hiking the back country.
I'm not sure what the print is from but American Badgers and Black Bears both live here.

This small waterfall is in the back country.  There are other larger falls in Bandelier that we were unable to see due to time. I think we could have used at least one more day in this pretty place!

One of the highlights of our visit was Alcove House, otherwise known as Ceremonial Cave. The area is accessed by several wooden ladders and hand and toe hold trails. For someone a little afraid of heights, (actually falling from heights!), I was proud of myself for making the scary climb to see it. At the foot of the cave is a reconstructed kiva which would have been used for religious ceremonies, teaching and meetings. You can even climb down into the kiva. The cave also sheltered the homes of several ancestral Pueblo families, as many as 23 rooms, some two stories high.

Petroglyphs abound throughout Bandelier.

For more information about Bandelier National Monument, please visit

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