Tag Archives: Native American

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

Overview

Quarrying in this part of the panhandle of Texas dates back 13,000 years to the last Ice Age.  The flint found here was especially good for making spear points and was traded across the continent over the centuries.  However, the harsh climate meant few humans lived here until recently, except between AD1200 and 1450.  Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is jointly managed with Lake Meredith National Recreation Area by the National Park Service (NPS).

Highlights

Flint knapping demonstrations, 10-minute film, ranger-guided tour of quarries

Must-Do Activity

Outside the NPS visitor center, dedicated park rangers frequently demonstrate the art of knapping points from flint blanks (not from within park boundaries) and other primitive survival skills. 

Best Trail

We recommend you take the free ranger-guided tour (offered twice daily) up to the quarries to get the full experience.  It is a bit of a climb, but is the only way access the sites.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The flint here not only holds a great edge, it is also beautifully colored.  The rangers will be happy to let you take rock samples home from knapping demonstrations (since the flint is not from within park boundaries).

Peak Season

Spring and fall, as it can be very hot in the summer.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/alfl/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Paved to the National Monument and many good dirt roads surround Lake Meredith National Recreation Area.

Camping

Free primitive camping is available around Lake Meredith where there are many dirt roads to explore, as well as developed campgrounds (fee).

Explore More – What is the origin of the interesting name “Alibates?”

Russell Cave National Monument

Overview

Humans have been visiting Russell Cave in northeast Alabama since about the time its limestone roof collapsed creating an entrance around 10,000 years ago.  A timeline of human invention was preserved in the floor of this hunting camp for millennia, from atlatls to bows, pottery to pump drills.  The park rangers were the friendliest we encountered during Pretirement and often offer demonstrations of prehistoric tools and weapons.

Highlights

Museum with American Indian artifacts, boardwalk to cave entrance, nature trails

Must-Do Activity

There are a select few artifacts displayed on site in the National Park Service (NPS) visitor center.  From there a short boardwalk leads through the forest to an overlook of the archaeological digs at the cave entrance, which you cannot enter. 

Best Trail

Two nature trails (0.6 and 1.2 miles long) split off from the boardwalk to explore the surrounding hills.

Instagram-worthy Photo

This cave is not famous for its pretty cave formations, but for its incredible archaeological record.  If you want to see beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, I recommend you head west to the impressive Cathedral Caverns State Park.

Peak Season

Summer, when it can be muggy and buggy.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/ruca/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved, but RVs are not recommended on Highway 156 if entering from the north.

Camping

DeSoto State Park has a campground and primitive camping is allowed at three sites in nearby Little River Canyon National Preserve.

Explore More – How far down into the cave floor did archaeologists dig in the 1950s?

Bandelier National Monument

Overview

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.

Bandelier

Highlights

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.

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Peak Season

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

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/band/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$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)

Camping

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.

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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

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The tuff looks like Swiss cheese; maybe that’s what attracted Swiss anthropologist Adolph Bandelier.

Waterfall
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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WONDON WAS HERE