Bandelier National Monument

Location: White Rock, New Mexico
Date: October 8, 2011

Long House

West of Santa Fe near the towns of White Rock and Los Alamos is Bandelier National Monument, which preserves the ancestral homes of the Pueblo people.  The monument encompasses over 33,000 acres, but most of the ruins are in a small area of Frijoles Canyon.  Most of the park is a designated wilderness area with few ruins to visit, but many trails cross the wilderness area.

The walls of Frijoles Canyon

There were a variety of dwellings in the valley, but the most unique are those that were built out of the canyon walls.  The rock that makes up the canyon walls is a soft volcanic deposit that resulted from eruptions of the Valles supervolcano, which the monument is at the base of.  There are several trails throughout the valley that lead to and into some of the dwellings.  Getting into the cavities requires walking up and down wooden ladders, but once you get in them they are quite spacious compared to the small openings.

Frijoles Canyon

The earliest settlements here have been dated to AD 1150, and considering that people were able to build these dwellings into the side of the cliffs, over time the cliff has eroded and some of the cavities have collapsed.


In summer 2011 massive wildfires burned 60% of the monument as well as thousands of acres across the land in the mountains above.  After the fires stopped burning, strong rains hit the area, and without the vegetation present, severe flooding occurred and caused severe damage in Frijoles Canyon.  Some areas were made inaccessible until repairs can be made while others, including the Falls trail have been permanently closed.

Large hole at lower right was a dwelling

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


Popular Posts