What is Bandelier National Monument?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Bandelier National Monument is a location in northern New Mexico that has been set aside by the United States government in order to protect important archaeological sites in the area. Bandelier, which is named for an archaeologist who conducted excavations in the area, was designated as a National Monument in 1916. It is administered by the National Parks Service and is open for visitors year round, although certain areas may be closed to the public for safety reasons and it is advisable to look up current information with the National Parks Service before planning a trip.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

This site contains the ruins of homes and other structures made by the ancient Pueblo people, including cliff dwellings, ceremonial structures known as kivas, and works of art. One of the most famous areas in Bandelier National Monument is Frijoles Canyon, an area that contains a number of Pueblo homes. Other areas in the park have features like a reconstructed kiva that tourists can enter.

Bandelier National Monument has a visitors' center and museum near the entrance of the park. Information about the site is available, along with examples of artifacts found at the site. In addition, this National Parks property has some examples of buildings constructed under the direction of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. They have been well preserved and are a historic site themselves. WPA-era architecture had a strong influence on the rustic style architecture favored at many National Parks and the buildings at Bandelier clearly show the roots of this influence.

There are a number of trails at Bandelier National Monument that vary in difficulty from quick hikes to multi-day backpacking trails. On the trail, people can see wildflowers native to the region, along with wildlife. Seasonally, trails can be quite variable in appearance and quality, and the region is very scenic, especially at dawn and dusk. Visitors can make arrangements to go on guided hikes with rangers who can provide information about the history of the site and the human populations that once lived there. Accessibility varies at Bandelier National Monument, and there are loaner wheelchairs available for people who need them. People with specific accessibility concerns may want to contact a ranger in advance.

This site is in a remote area and is primarily accessible by car. Other sites to visit in the area include Capulin Volcano National Monument, Aztec Ruins National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historic Park, and Fort Union National Park. People who are interested in visiting multiple National Parks Service sites may want to consider buying a pass, as this can be more cost effective that paying separate entry, parking, and camping fees at each site. Passes are available at individual parks and monuments and they can also be purchased online.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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