Bandelier National Monument


One of 13 national monuments in New Mexico, this archaeological site is located in a beautiful forested canyon at 6,000 feet elevation outside Los Alamos.  Ancestral Puebloans inhabited Frijoles Canyon from AD 1150 to 1550, building villages and carving rooms out of the soft volcanic tuff, much like in Cappadocia, Turkey.



Ruins, cavates, Alcove House, Upper Falls, Painted Cave

Must-Do Activity

Climb 140 feet up ladders and steep steps to Alcove House cliff dwelling for superlative views of the canyon.

Best Trail

After exploring the ruins, be sure to hike 1.5 miles to Upper Falls downstream from the visitor center.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The National Park Service has installed some awesome, authentic-looking ladders to access the cavates.


Peak Season

Summer when a shuttle is required from Los Alamos, New Mexico due to limited parking



$25 per group or America the Beautiful pass

Road Conditions

Paved, but visitors are required to take a shuttle from Los Alamos between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the summer (May 17 – October 17)


Juniper Campground has 94 sites, running water, and is open most of the year.  Its 70 miles of trails also make the park popular for backpacking, which requires a zoned camping permit.


Scott at the entryway for a large dwelling
Scott inside a cavate
Tiff a few rooms down
Tiff inside a cavate

Tiff climbing down

16-May New Mexico 247

The tuff looks like Swiss cheese; maybe that’s what attracted Swiss anthropologist Adolph Bandelier.
Upper Falls is only a 1.5 mile hike downstream from the visitor center

Explore More – When did the giant volcano erupt that created the 16-mile wide Valles Caldera and deposited hundreds of feet of volcanic ash that formed tuff?



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