Whew, this past week has been a reminder of a few realities of our brand of RV/motorcycle travel: there is never enough time to see everything, do everything, share the things that you have seen and done, or adequate internet access. 🙂
One week ago, we were in lovely Santa Fe, at an even more lovely RV park, Santa Fe Skies, that I wrote about here. My last post covered a wonderful Day in Taos, and next on our list was a monument that we missed the last trip to the area, Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier is about an hours drive from Santa Fe, in White Rock near Los Alamos National Laboratory, and it is a remarkably well-preserved example of an Ancestral Puebloan community thought to have been occupied from the mid-1200s to mid-1500s.
There is an excellent visitor’s center, and the staff and volunteers are very helpful in suggesting activities appropriate for your timeframe. We chose the Main loop trail, a 1.2-mile hike to a canyon floor village, Tyuonyi, and nearby cliff dwellings, then extended our hike another half mile into Frijoles Canyon to see Alcove House, a ceremonial cliff dwelling reached by climbing a series of 4 long wooden ladders. Yes, it was worth it!
The Ancestral Puebloan people relied on the year-round flow of Frijoles Creek to support their agricultural lifestyle, cultivating corn, beans, and squash on the Canyon floor, but were also impacted by seasonal floods raging through the canyon.
The pink rock of the Canyon wall looks like sandstone but is actually volcanic ash from the Jemez Volcano which erupted over a million years ago. The ash was compacted over time into a soft crumbly rock called tuff. This soft rock made excellent building material and the Ancestral Pueblo people used tools to enlarge natural openings in the cliff face, and then to constructed stone dwellings in front of the openings.
The lower walls of the cave rooms were usually plastered while the ceilings were smoke-blackened to harden the crumbly volcanic tuff.
Above the top row of roof beam holes in Long House were many petroglyphs, which were once considered simply “rock art”, but now are recognized to have much deeper meanings to the people who carved them. Unfortunately, they did not translate very well to photographs, with a couple of wonderful exceptions.
A pictograph, on the other hand, is a painted design, and this example was fortunately preserved for 600+ years.
And then on to Alcove House! A lovely shady walk to…4 sets of ladders, totaling 140 feet. 🙂
So you might be wondering what happened to the 4th ladder! Well, I thought it might be fun to see it from another perspective. 😲
One of our favorite aspects of some parks. 🏍
And our reward, back in Santa Fe:
Thanks for visiting Bandelier National Monument with us! I hope you find your way there one day.