Bandelier National Monument – a journey to the ancient Anasazi ruins of a time gone by. Explore the cave dwellings. Climb numerous ladders to peak into their homes on the sunny side of Frijoles Canyon. The Pueblo people are descendants of hunters and gatherers who came into the region over 10,000 years ago. “Anasazi” is a Navajo term referring to the ancestors of Pueblo people before the coming of the Spanish. They were farmers who grew maize (corn), beans and squash. Cotton was cultivated and woven into garments. The people made winter blankets ingeniously woven of yucca-fiber string twisted with turkey feathers or strips of rabbit skin. They fashioned tools from animal, bones, wood and local stones such as obsidian and basalt.
By the mid- 1500’s the people who lived in Bandelier had moved on, settling into new homes and villages along the Rio Grande River. Soon afterward the Spanish colonized New Mexico, bringing immense change to the indigenous people of the Southwest. You can take the loop trail which put you up close and in personal touch with these cliff homes and petroglyphs. It takes about 1 hr 15 min to complete. The Tyuonyi village at one time housed approximately 100 people and had about 400 rooms.
Valles Caldera (separate tour or add on to Bandolier National Monument) – This is the site of a 2 million year old volcano that sits on the top of the Jemez mountains. It is 13 miles wide and is now used for grazing cattle, elk and hiking trails. It is just a short distance from Bandelier and adds more understanding of how the entire Pajarito Plateau was originally formed. This is a nice addition to the Bandelier tour. The Valles Caldera National Preserve was a private ranch until 2000, when Congress created it from a well-known ranch known as the Baca Ranch in New Mexico’s volcanic Jemez Mountain Range. This 89,000 acre property is situated inside a collapsed crater. Studded with eruptive domes and featuring Redondo Peak (11,254 feet), this old ranch property is now being developed to explore a new way of managing public lands. The preserve is open to the Public. They keep the numbers of visitors small for any activity so you feel like you have the place to yourself. There is a sense of solitude that is refreshing and relaxing.
A roundtrip to Bandelier National Monument and back to Santa Fe is $300 + tax + entry fees and takes up to 5 hours.
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