Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back over 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities. Life in Bandelier The Ancestral Pueblo people lived here from approximately 1150 CE to 1550 CE. They built homes carved from the volcanic tuff and planted crops in mesatop fields. Corn, beans, and squash were central to their diet, supplemented by native plants and meat from deer, rabbit, and squirrel. Domesticated turkeys were used for both their feathers and meat while dogs assisted in hunting and provided companionship. Moving On By 1550, the Ancestral Pueblo people had moved from this area to pueblos along the Rio Grande. After over 400 years the land here could no longer support the people and a severe drought added to what were already becoming difficult times. Oral traditions tell us where the people went and who their descendents are. The people of Cochiti Pueblo, located just south and east along the Rio Grande, are the most direct descendents of the Ancestral Pueblo people who built homes in Frijoles Canyon. Likewise, San Ildefonso is most closely linked to Tsankawi.
This was an amazing trail! I had never seen or done anything like it before! I did the main loop, took the route up to the cave dwellings, and also did the alcove house. It's all connected and easy to follow.
You can hike in the cave dwellings that have ladders and I definitely recommend it. Oh and also you can buy a little self guided tour book for $1 in the visitors center, which I thought was worth it.
The alcove house portion shouldn't be attempted by anyone with a fear of heights. Like really. I had issues with it and in general I wouldn't say I have issues with heights. However, the pay off is well worth it!
I went on a weekend in August and it wasn't too crowded. I definitely saw other people but we were spaced out really well.
Definitely do this hike. It was the highlight of my trip!
There are some steep spots and ladders that make this challenging for an easy rating. My 70 year old mother had to turn back and sit it out. Easy should allow all ages. That being said it was amazing but take water and sunscreen. I rate this moderate on the climbs and easy on the flats.
My boyfriend and I found this trail using this awesome app. We were supposed to go to Bandelier National Monument but I could not get on a packed shuttle, claustrophobic, and the shuttle was the only way to get there.
Anyway, we found this trail and my boyfriend, Matt, said it was even better than Bandelier. It's not as crowded and the un excavated site really lends itself to many surprises. I'm not saying you should skip Bandelier but this trail was an absolute beauty.
Sherrie V. on Alcove House Trail
Great, very different from anything I've ever done.
Would have been absolutely beautiful if the water was flowing. As it was, it was still a great hike. You can still get down to the lower falls, but that might border on hard because of loose rock, etc. and the trail is marked closed, so it might be illegal!