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“What a wonderful experience!!”

Bandelier National Monument
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Bandelier National Monument from Santa Fe
Ranked #1 of 28 things to do in Los Alamos
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Bandelier National Monument is 50 square miles of the Pajarito Plateau, on the slopes of the Jemez Volcanic field in the Jemez Mountains. Over 70% of the Monument is Wilderness, with over 1 mile elevation change, from about 5000' along the Rio Grande to over 10,000' at the rim of the Valles Caldera, providing for a wide range of life zones and wildlife habitat. There are only 3 miles of road, but over 70 miles of hiking trails. The Monument, founded in 1916, protects Ancestral Pueblo archeological sites, a beautiful landscape, and the country's largest Civilian Conservation Corps National Landmark District.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed July 23, 2008

My husband and I spent a 1/2 day at the Bandelier National Monument. We had such a great time! I would advise guests to purchase the $1.00 guide booklet and follow the main loop trail. We really enjoyed climbing the ladders into the cavate and reading about the history. I highly recommend he Alcove House. The ladders are a little frightening but it's well worth it when you are up top!

It was a great experience and we would highly recommend Bandelier for people of all ages!

2  Thank beach22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 19, 2008

The ancient village and cave dwellings in Bandelier are something to see. They are intersting, beautiful, and lots of fun for the kids. My five year old loved climbing the ladders to the caves on the Main Loop trail, which is about a 1 1/2 mile walk. We could have added the second trail taking us to what we were told are even more impressive cliff dwellings and an enormous Kiva carved into the rock, but unfortunately, it was very hot, we were running out of water, and we knew that our 5 yr old would not be able to go up and down the 140 ft of ladders. Next time.

Thank Debbiewanders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 21, 2008

During our trip to Santa Fe, we took a drive to Bandalier National Monument. There are 2 parts to the park, the main large part, where they have a ranger station, and a visitor center. To the north of this is the much smaller "Tsankawi ruins" which is the real hidden gem of Bandalier. We probably didn't find the main park as exciting after going to Tsankawi first (it's on the way from Santa Fe, and before you get to the main park).

I'll start with the fun part. Tsankawi Ruins is a small, non-descript "sidelight" to Bandalier. There are no signs, other than a small welcome sign posted on a gate. You just park in a large turn-out off the side of the road. You walk through this gate, and you can buy a trail map for 50 cents. On it are 20+ notable locations in the park, each with its own number. When you are walking around the park, there are large posts with the numbers imprinted on them, so you can see what you are reading about on the trail map (very interesting!). This park basically lets you walk the original trails carved into the tuff plateaus (tuff is the sandstone-like earth which makes up a lot of this area). You hike up onto this plateau, then explore the many caves and ruins on top of, and carved into the tuff. What I really enjoyed about this is that I felt like I was discovering something on my own, left to explore the way I wanted to. Tsankawi has just as many interesting things to see as Bandalier, and you get to actually explore it along the old primitive trails carved into the ground centuries old. There are many many petroglyphs carved here, and even some ancient adobe brick structures. You can even find large pieces of ancient indian clay pots, but please don't take them! It was really fun to explore this area on our own, and there were hardly any people to disturb the peace and quiet of the area.

Then we drove down to Bandalier proper. After seeing Tsankawi, this was far less interesting, and more "Disney-fied". There are large signs everywhere explaining everything, and a convenient asphalt path complete with metal handrails to "explore" Bandalier. Everywhere you turn, there were signs telling you to "stay back, stay on trail!!!" (I guess people would probably ruin the structures if left to their own devices). And the trail is only 5 or 6 feet wide, so getting around the hordes of people stopping, gawking, photographing, etc was really annoying. There are defiintely more ruins here, so if you want to see more complete structures, this has more. But I found this area far more stifling, and I did not enjoy it so much. I felt like cattle being prodded along from sign to sign along a paved trail. Tsankawi was so much more fun to explore.

8  Thank cthenn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2008

I was not all that excited about going here, to be honest. I was a little scared of the ladders and it just did not seem that awesome...BUT I was wrong! The ladders were not a problem at all, super sturdy and do not move around, and the caves were so cool!! We spent about an hour and 1/2 there and it was great. Just a neat place to see and learn about! Don't miss it!

3  Thank gracie007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 25, 2007

This national monument is a nice drive outside Santa Fe. The self-guided tour around the ancient grounds was surprisingly informative and interesting, even though parts were closed off for the winter. It's a beautiful area to see and spend about an hour walking around. However, if you are looking for a quick bite to eat afterward, the only option is the snack bar with outdoor seating only. That was a bit disappointing considering it was about 30 degrees outside. I'd recommend saving your appetite for a nicer place back in the city. Be sure to make a quick stop at Overlook Park outside of the official monument area for great views.

3  Thank designertravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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