Okay so it was really hard to choose a favorite place I visited in New Mexico, but Bandelier National Monument was wow, amazing. I loved every single minute of my time here! This one was definitely a lot busier than any of the other places we visited, but we got there early and it was bearable. I would suggest going early if you’re able to as well, to beat the huge crowds.
Compared to some of the other drives we had to take to get to the places we wanted to see, this one didn’t seem that long to me. It was a little winding and steep toward the last stretch, but nothing too treacherous.
Bandelier National Monument – Check ahead for any park alerts
Address: 15 Entrance Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544
Fees: $25.00 per vehicle (Annual Pass covers this)
We arrived around 9 and had a quick breakfast at one of the many picnic tables, probably almost got in a fight with people planning to leave their dog in their car (dogs aren’t permitted on the trails here, just leave them home, NOT in your car), then headed to one of the park rangers to get some additional information about the trails here, as it was our first time. The park store was open here in mid April. I think the restaurant up there was open as well, at least it smelled like food cooking.
We hit the trail and came upon the crumbling structures of what was, not built into the cliffs, in this first location. This was really cool to see once we climbed higher up toward the cliff face, and turned around to get a sweeping view of those ruins.
Not only are there pieces of the past here, but the geology is really interesting, too. There were a lot of cool rock formations. I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots of those as well.
There are so many cave dwellings at this location, it was overwhelming. But in a good way. There is so much to see here, it is incredible.
Along the path, you’ll find that some of these dwellings, you’re allowed to climb up the ladders and enter inside of them. It is so cool to see the interior and imagine what it must’ve been like to live here, and marvel at the way the rooms are carved out (some of it naturally, too!).
These were home to the Ancestral Pueblo People, and you’ll also find petroglyphs that they left behind as well. Some of them are a bit harder to spot, but keep your eyes peeled on the cliff sides. (Will edit with a petroglyph photo if I can find one in my hundreds of photos from here 🤣 )
The Long House is exactly as it sounds, a long stretch of cliffside houses, one after another. You can see how some of them build outside of the cave to basically add a front onto their house. It’s so incredible and fun to imagine what it must’ve looked like in its prime.
The Alcove House is 140 feet nearly straight up from the ground.
You have to get up on ladders, taking turns going up and down with passing visitors.
Signs warn ahead of time, not for those afraid of heights, naturally. This can be quite treacherous if you’re not careful. If you happened to fall, this is a very long way down…
There were families with young children (some looked as young as five, I was quite surprised), just know that you need to be very careful going up and down this portion.
Once you get there, you can see the remnants of the Alcove House. It’s really cool that they built it in such a spot.
We had an amazing time here and I would definitely recommend it to anybody that’s had Bandelier on their mind. We also went to Tsankawi Village, I will be making a separate post for this gem! What did you like best at Bandelier?