About an hour west of Santa Fe, New Mexico is Bandelier National Monument, a site that preserves remnants of where Ancestral Pueblo people used to live from about 1150 CE to 1550 CE.
Because of New Mexico’s rich Native American history, I knew this was a place worth visiting while I was in Santa Fe. At the monument, there are a couple of trails visitors can take, but the one a ranger immediately recommended to me was the Main Loop Trail, which is 1.2 miles.
There are 21 stops along the trail, including kivas – which Pueblo people would use for religious activities, education and decision-making purposes; walls of the village of the Tyuonyi Pueblo; and cavates (cliff dwellings).
All in all, it took me about 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the trail. It wasn’t that strenuous and I didn’t stop at all the numbered sites, mostly because some were bare areas of land. But, I did climb into the cavates and took photos, which took up a good chunk of time.
There’s a $1 trail guide available for purchase at the visitor’s center that explains the significance of each site, but you can also request to loan a copy for free 🙂
In addition to the Main Loop Trail, there are a couple of others that I would have loved to complete if I had more time. There’s one to the Alcove House, which is 0.5 miles away from the midpoint of the Main Loop Trail. It was home to about 25 Ancestral Pueblo people, and is accessible by climbing four sets of stairs.
Beginning of the trail to the Alcove House
There’s also Falls Trail, which takes you to a waterfall. Then there’s Tsankawi, where you can hike the same trails that Ancestral Pueblo people used.
I think the fact that there are remnants from where Ancestral Pueblo people used to live that are preserved and viewable today is reason enough to see Bandelier National Monument. There’s a $20 entrance fee that is good for 7 days. The monument is managed by the National Park Service (which I love and support!) so that fee helps that amazing agency.
If you appreciate history and being outdoors, this monument is a good place to add to your itinerary when in Santa Fe. More information about Bandelier can be found here.