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“An amazing walk through cultural history off the beaten path.”
Review of Tsankawi

Tsankawi
Ranked #4 of 28 things to do in Los Alamos
Certificate of Excellence
Trophy Club, Texas
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“An amazing walk through cultural history off the beaten path.”
Reviewed July 3, 2013

This small portion of Bandelier National Monument is a real jewel that is detached from the main park area. We explored this area by following the 1.5 mile loop trail. We enjoyed the trail immensely, feeling that it had many features that we have not experienced in other areas. The sheer number of dwellings, and the large area covered in this hike makes this site unique. Another unique feature is the ruts that were created by the years of ancestral pueblo Indians walking from the dwellings to the land that they farmed.

The trail is very hot if you are doing it in the summer during the mid-day time frame. There is very little shade along the trail and the trail is completely dry. There is a very clean restroom and potable water available at the trailhead. Make sure that you take water with you. There is a trail guide at the start of the trail as well which you can purchase for $0.50 which is very interesting and helps guide you along the trail.

The parking lot for this hike is located just along Hwy 4, just south of the junction of NM502 and NM 4, or just north of the stop light at East Jemez Rd and NM4.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Steven Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Ann Arbor, MI
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“A side trip well worth taking”
Reviewed June 29, 2013

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my guided tour at the Puye Cliff Dwellings and my hike at Bandelier, hiking along the loop trail at Tsankawi proved most compelling archaeologically. These are unexcavated ruins and, as such, force the explorer to discern cliff dwelling from air holes and to climb unguided to the mesa level. But the climb -- two well-placed ladders assist -- transports you along the paths and natural "stairs" used by the inhabitants (who by the way did not belong to the same clans that inhabited Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier).

You do have to drive slowly along Hwy 4 -- I suggest coming to Tsankawi after exploring Bandelier and on your way back to Santa Fe because the trailhead will be on your side of the road. (Even so, it is very easy to miss. Very few cars stop here.) The first half mile or so isn't very intriguing; basically you are peering at the cliffs as you walk along the edge of the first level. But once you come to the loop trail sign, you are confronted with the opportunity to hike up very narrow footpaths that take you up to and around a second cliff's edge (second story, if you will). You also will climb a couple of ladders, the last leading to the mesa level where the ruins of the summer dwellings are yours to view. You also will see pottery shards and obsidian all over the surface at this level. This you will not see at Bandelier -- and these are worth seeing. Also worth seeing are the petroglyphs along one of the ridges on the way down. And there is a very well-preserved cave dwelling that you can enter. (You will know it was an actual dwelling by the smoke residue on the top of the cave, the second room, and the ventilation holes.)

If you enjoy feeling more like Indiana Jones than a tourist, take this hike. As all have mentioned, it is exposed like most hikes in this region and lots of water, a hat, and sunscreen are musts particularly since the the hiking is slow up and down the narrow footpaths and steps and you will want to take a lot of time at the mesa level to explore the ruins and venture off the actual path into the areas where the pottery shards are most visible.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank bigcitydiner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Mexico
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Breathtaking”
Reviewed June 21, 2013

Tsankawi is not for the faint-of-heart but what stunning views greet you at the top of your climb. Make sure to wear your sturdiest hiking boots and bring plenty of water. It's the best place to experience what it might have been like to live during the ancestral pueblo times. It is beautifully silent at the top and if you are lucky enough to be hiking when it is unpopulated, you'll feel like the only person on earth. I can't get enough of this magical place!

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank wiscojoan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Peaceful, inspiring!”
Reviewed June 18, 2013

I was in Santa Fe over the Mother's Day weekend and learned of this site...I am so very glad that I did! The hike is an easy one, although there is some climbing involved over some constructed ladders to gain access to the whole trail. The trail follows ancient paths of the people indigenous to the area and there are informative signs along the trail that explain the activity of the people who lived here so long ago! There are small caves that you can enter to experience what it might have been like; pay attention to the walls of the trail for the ancient drawings which are, depending on the time of day easy (or not) to see. Stay on the trail because the site is protected, but even so you can see bits of pottery from the ancient people scattered about. Great views along the trail, bring water!!! There is a fee for the site, and there is an automated pay station at the trail head, although the day I was there the station was out of order and posted as free for the day. There are pamphlets explaining the trail at the trail head as well, just replace them when you leave. Restrooms are at the trailhead, extremely well maintained, water here too. Enjoy!!!! Leave only footprints, take only photographs!!!!

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Peter P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Level 6 Contributor
605 reviews
263 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 471 helpful votes
“High Desert Hiking and Historic Destination”
Reviewed June 4, 2013

Tsankawi Mountain is part of the Bandelier National Monument, but is a number of miles away on New Mexico state highway 4. Technically, you are supposed to purchase a day pass at Bandelier, but I suppose one could hike without paying the $12 since it is easy access from the road. Before attempting to hike at Tsankawi, be advised that you will need to climb one ladder that is a bit precarious (see photo included with this review). There is another smaller ladder that can be bypassed around 30 feet further by climbing a couple of rocks. Upon entering, make sure you borrow or purchase (50 cents) a trail guide to identify the points of interest along the hike. After entering and walking around 75 yards, there is a restroom located behind the building that you approach. I also saw a water fountain, but I did not check if it was in working order. Information about the place suggests that the trail distance is 1.5 miles, but we found it to be around 1.8 miles with the GPS tracker on my wife’s phone.

TIP: For those that hike regularly, start with a hike at the trails around the main Bandelier facility, then do this trail afterwards.

TIP 2: Read some about this place before going so that what you see makes more sense.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank AlphaRam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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