|Center of Tsankawi|
Tsankawi lies about 12 miles north of Bandelier National Monument on NM 4, and is located at a gravel parking area along the highway. It is still a part of Bandelier National Monument. Hike down the trail and pay an entrance fee at the shelter, or post your Bandelier pass on your dashboard. The trail runs about 1.5 miles and should take about 2 hours. Carry drinking water.
|Top of the second ladder with a view north and back to the parking lot|
Tsankawi is the remains of a mesa top pueblo, home to the Ancestral Tewa Pueblo people. This Pueblo is not reconstructed, and will not be, at the request of the San Ildefonso Pueblo people, descendents of the Tsankawi people.
While that may not sound appealing, it really is because when you arrive there you actually have to look closely at the area and think like an archaeologist. It is really cool!
The trail climbs to a spot with a ladder, where you climb onto the "lower Cliff" on top of a stone platform. From there continue along the path to the right where you come to a trail junction, go left. Climbing higher you soon notice troughs or steps worn from the rock, some perfect for stepping up to the next ledge. These trails were carved by the feet of Ancestral Pueblo people walking up and down the mountain to tend fields and carry food and water to the Pueblo. Soon you reach another ladder to climb to the "high cliff". Once you climb this ladder, you continue walking up the mountain and finally reach the top.
Off to your left in the valley below you can see some ruins. This is the ruins of the Dutchess Castle, built in 1918 to teach pottery skills to the modern Pueblo peoples.
|Dutches Castle ruins|
|Tsankawi ruins, cisterns, kivas and stone walls|
Continuing along the trail you will pass through a narrow area, then reach a plateau on top of the mesa. Before you lies Tsankawi, buried in piles of sand, stones, cactus and shrubs. The walls have fallen, many that were 2 stories tall, Kivas have filled in and the path climbs through the piles of stone. in some places you can see straight lines of stone walls, in others there are many depressions, some made to retain rain water like a cistern. There were once 275 ground floor rooms here, and a large central plaza where Ancestral Pueblo peoples cooked, worked on pottery, processed food and played games.
|Worn pathways on the way down, made by the Ancestral Pueblo people|
|Petroglyphs along the trail|
The trail continues to another ladder that leads down and to the right. Follow this trail past petroglyphs and cavates back to the lower stone platform, down that ladder and back to your car.
We noticed Tsankawi on the way in to Bandelier, but did not stop until the return trip. It is at the crossroads where you travel to from White Rock to Los Alamos on NM 4.