|Pueblo Tyuonyi ruins, one of several Ancestral Pueblos at Bandelier National Monument|
Bandelier National Monument is a 33,727 acre park preserving Ancestral Pueblo sites and keeping the area safe which has hosted human activity for over 10,000 years. The Frijoles canyon area holds the Tyuonyi Pueblo, Long House and talus houses of cliff dwellings. Bandelier holds over 3000 documented Ancestral Pueblo sites with very few restored. The main loop trail is only 1.2 miles long and is partially handicapped accessable.
The Ancestral Pueblo people, once called the Navajo word Anasazi for "Ancient Enemies", came to this land around 10,000 years ago, starting as hunter-gatherers, roaming the mesa tops above the canyons where they eventually grew the 3 main plants of the time: corn, squash and beans, and hunted small animals for meat and hide.
|Swiss Cheese-like holes in the soft volcanic tuft|
|And carved Cavates in the tuft|
|Looking up the canyon walls|
|Morning light on the cactus|
The soft volcanic tuft now looks like Swiss cheese along the Frijoles Creek area. Trees and shrubs grow well in the canyon alongside the permanent stream and draw wildlife. The reliable water source must have been very important to the Ancestral Pueblo people, providing drinking and cooking water, plus water for plants.
|Canyon wall houses|
|Inside the Cavates with the metates|
|Ladders, ladders everywhere|
The south-facing canyon walls, warmer during the winter, held 2 story Pueblos with 2-3 stone built rooms, with one or two rooms carved from the cliff face using stone tools. Cavate ceilings were blackened with soot to harden the stone and make it less crumbly. Horizontal rows of holes show where the roof beams were placed. The walls and floors were mud plastered, requiring constant maintenance.
|More Cavates, more ladders|
|The beginning of the Long House along the cliff, note the holes in the wall for ceiling posts|
|And steps with helpful modern handrails|
|The petroglyphs are hard to see, but they are above the holes in the wall|
|And more, here you can see the circles clearly|
|The parrot petroglyph in the cleft|
500 people were living here at the peak on the Pajarito Plateau around 1325 CE. Most Pueblos ranged from 150 to 500 rooms, some contained 1000 to 1500 rooms.
It has been 450 years since people lived in the Pueblos at Bandelier, and they had lived there previously for 400 years, growing food, raising children, and living life. Modern Pueblo peoples still visit the site and respect their elders. There is so much more to explore here and I'll be back to spend more time at Bandelier.
|Frijoles creek on its way to meet the Rio Grande|
|View of the cliff face from the creek|
|Looking back at the cliffs from the visitor center, the large kiva is on the left just past that tree|
Bandelier National Monument runs shuttle buses every 30 minutes daily 9am to closing from the park welcome center in White Rock. Parking at the canyon site is extremely limited and the buses make it a much safer trip. If you are camping at Juniper Campground, drive on to the actual park entrance, pay there and setup camp in the campground. Keep your entrance tab for the bus. A bus also runs from the campground down to the Frijoles Canyon every 30 minutes.
|Parting shots of flowers on the way out|
To find Bandelier National Monument, drive north on US 285 & US 84 from Santa Fe, turn left onto NM 502 and follow to NM 4 near White Rock. It is about a 40-45 minute drive from Santa Fe.