Bandelier National Monument: What You Need to Know

This 33,677-acre preserve encompasses some of the most dramatic volcanic landscapes and archaeological ruins in New Mexico. The former home of ancestral Pueblo people, the area was occupied from AD 1150 to 1600. The remains of the area include structures like masonry walls and dwellings, all of which are carved from the volcanic rock. Petroglyphs pepper the walls and work to illustrate Pueblo culture and daily life. Located near Los Alamos, this monument is a big draw for people living in the area. 
 
Bandelier was designated by President Woodrow Wilson as a National Monument in 1916. The park infrastructure was further developed in the 1930s by crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps. While not a designated National Park, the National Park Service cooperates with surrounding Pueblos, other federal agencies, and state agencies to manage the 50-square-mile area. Most of the pueblo structures are around 3,500 years old, and the monument preserves the homes and territory of Ancestral Puebloans.  
 
Over 70 percent of Bandelier National Monument is wilderness. It comprises a large portion of the Pajarito Plateau and has over one mile of elevation change, creating a wide range of life zones and wildlife habitats. There are three miles of road and more than 70 miles of hiking trails. Frijoles Canyon contains a number of ancestral pueblo homes, kivas, rock paintings, and petroglyphsTyuonyia circular pueblo site that once stood 1-3 stories tall, is of particular archaeological interest. Most sites date from the Pueblo III Era to the Pueblo IV Era. 
 
Bandelier National Monument is not, however, just a spot for history lovers. The park has an educational museum, hiking trails, and campsites, all of which are perfect for getting out and exploring the strangely beautiful New Mexican wilderness. Wildlife is locally abundant, and both deer and Abert’s squirrels are frequently encountered in the canyon. A substantial herd of elk are present during the winter months, and backcountry hikers have been known to encounter both black bear and mountain lions.  

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