Main Ruin Loop Trail

EASY 71 reviews

Main Ruin Loop Trail is a 1.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
1.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
219 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

cave

river

no dogs

Bandelier National Monument - Ancestral Pueblo Indian Cliff Dwellings The Main Loop Trail is a 1.2 mile loop trail (thanks to log crossings put in by our trail crew to replace bridges lost in last summer's floods) through archeological sites. Most visitors spend between 45 minutes and one hour on this trail. Ladders along the trail allow visitors to climb into cavates (small human-carved alcoves). The Main Loop Trail takes you past the Big Kiva, Tyuonyi, Talus House, and Long House. Pick up a $1 trail guide at the Visitor Center to learn more about the sites along the trail through descriptions of 21 numbered stops. View this guide, for free, online.. The first section of this trail is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers; however, the second part contains areas with numerous narrow stone stairways. In winter, this is the only trail on which the snow is removed.

walking
8 days ago

Great history and experience. Not the best hiking, but the views and information are pretty great. Go before 9 or after 3 and you can skip the shuttle and dump of people when you get there.

hiking
11 days ago

Super easy. Went at about 5pm and it was pretty quiet. The alcove trail is definitely worth the detour. If you go in the afternoon, the left side of the main loop has a lot more shade than the right side with the cave dwellings, so I regret not taking the left part first.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a nice short, easy hike., and not very challenging. You get to see a lot of ruins, cave dwellings, and petroglyphs. You can climb (via ladders) to some of the cave dwellings. If you go an extra 0.5 miles before you Loop back, you can visit the Alcove house which is formally known as the ceremonial cave. It’s located around 140 ft. above the Frijoles canyon floor. It’s an actual cave dwelling in the side of a cliff. It has a reconstructed kiva, viga holes, and niches of former homes. You access it by a series of ladders that are strategically placed on the face of the mountain. The ladders are very easy to negotiate. However, if you’re afraid of heights, it might be an issue. I gave it 4 stars because it was very crowded and noisy. I’ve been here multiple times of the day on separate visits, and it seems to always be crowded. If it wasn’t so crowded, it would definitely get an extra star. It’s still a good hike that I wouldn’t pass up.

hiking
2 months ago

Very neat, allowed hands-on exploration of historical dwellings in such a beautiful setting. We were there in the evening around sunset & it was very peaceful.

4 months ago

Such a nice trail. I recommend buying the map in the visitors center to follow along with the numbers on the trail.

hiking
6 months ago

Loved it!

hiking
6 months ago

Arrived around noon, parking lot full and used the alternate one. In to visitors center and looked at a few loops, Main Trail decided. Hmm, so did most others and plenty visitors ahead. Temperature was great in low 50s so a pullover was plenty. Fantastic area and most pictures won’t do it justice, my choice of sleeping quarters, not sure which one. Long lines along the ladders and expect some brief breaks waiting. Glad all the kids made it up and down safely. Would certainly do it again.

6 months ago

We did this trail with our son who was almost 2 at the time. We had a blast. He didn’t climb up the ladders to peek inside the caverns and rode on mamas back up the hard part, but on level ground through the woods he had a blast!

hiking
6 months ago

Excellent hike with so many interesting historic sited to see. The walk is fairly easy.

8 months ago

Great short informative hike highlighting the Pueblo life in the 1500's. Be sure and go to Alcove cave! It adds about 1mi to hike. You must climb several ladders to go into the cave….but very cool!

8 months ago

Beautiful trail. Transforms you back in time when the natives inhabited the area.

10 months ago

Early morning hike -- not crowded, even on a Sunday.

walking
Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mesa Verde National Park may be the crown jewel of pueblos, but Bandelier provides a more intimate experience. I found myself behind two touring school groups, which made it frustrating to navigate the narrow paths and ladders to the pueblos. But, after hearing the kids' enthusiastic responses to the caves and listening to their imaginations go wild as they imagined their lives way-back-when made me feel like a kid again, too. Definitely a stop for those with children.

hiking
Wednesday, June 07, 2017

This is a popular park, and it can be crowded. Be sure to hike all the way out to the farthest point on the main loop trail to climb the 140 feet of ladders to the ceremonial alcove cave. It is worth it. We were caught in a thunderstorm, but that only made the experience more fun. The history of the ancient Pueblo people is fascinating.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Great & easy trail. We went before the park got busy, weather was perfect too.

hiking
Thursday, November 03, 2016

Easy and very informative trail, many ruins can be seen.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cool ruins and caves dwellings, but as a hike it wasn't much...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Very nice trail with beautiful scenery and old ruins.

walking
Friday, March 18, 2016

Eight and five year olds loved climbing into the cavates and even listened as we read the self-guided tour pamphlet! Easy for them. One grandparent (who lives at sea levels and has asthma) had difficulty with the stairs by the cliff dwellings, but otherwise it was a pleasant morning outing. At 9:30 Thursday morning when we arrived the parking lot was half full; when we departed at 11:30 people were walking from overflow parking >1/2 mile down the road.

hiking
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bandelier is great! The Main Loop Trail is very easy but has terrific views. Although I don't have kids I'd say it is definitely easy enough for families.

hiking
Friday, August 01, 2014

Great historic hike. Path well maintained. Easy for kids.

hiking
Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Great hike for kids. Very educational. There are lots of steps and ladders which my kids enjoyed a lot, but it's not so long that they're overwhelmed.

hiking
Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Very easy trail with spectacular views, of forest, cliff dwellings, Rio Grande River and a peak into the Anasazi era! It requires climbing ladders, so wear proper shoes!

hiking
Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Easy trail with great views of the pueblos and cliff dwellings. There are some ladders you can use to climb into the caves as well as petroglyphs and pictographs.

hiking
Saturday, June 22, 2013

Very unique trail and the education you receive on the Ancient Pueblo People. You get to check out Kivas and Petroglyphs all throughout. There are some ladders to climb and narrow passages that may not be for the faint of heart really young or old. My first trip to the park we encountered a bear on the path eating apples from the near by apple tree and that was quit a treat! Pun intended !

hiking
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Awesome! Great history lesson as well. This place is unbelievable!

hiking
Sunday, July 01, 2012

the caves and old structures are awesome. tons of people but well worth it. the loop is about 1.5 miles round trip and is mostly paved.

6 days ago

6 days ago

hiking
11 days ago

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