Bandelier National Monument

Travel Back in Time

At Bandelier National Monument, one of the National Park Service’s oldest sites (1916), you will find Ancestral Pueblo dwellings scattered across a landscape of broad mesas and steep-walled canyons that provide habitat for a diversity of plant and animal life.

The main loop trail (1.2 mile loop) in Frijoles Canyon provides easy access (partially handicapped accessible) to the remains of these ancient homes. Like past inhabitants, you can climb ladders into several of the small carved rooms (caveats). A more challenging climb can be found at Alcove House where Ancestral Pueblo people built homes in a natural recess in the cliff face. Four ladders and a number of stone stairs are required to make the 140-foot ascent.

Although best known for archeological sites, Bandelier also includes 23,000 acres of designated wilderness. Over 70 miles of trails vary in difficulty from easy footpaths good for the whole family to more challenging ones best for experienced hikers. Permits for overnight stays in Bandelier’s backcountry are available at the Bandelier Visitor Center. There are 57 camp sites at Juniper campground (can accommodate RVs, but not hookups). The Ponderosa Group Campground can accomodate groups up to 50

The primary visitor area is accessed only by shuttle bus (see info on page 14) during the summer months when Bandelier offers guided walks daily. Evening and cultural demonstration programs occur on weekends during the summer season. Self-guided tours are available all year. Special programs may be offered, including Junior Ranger Programs for children.

During parts of the year, visitors to Bandelier must catch a shuttle bus at the White Rock Visitor’s Center. Call 1.800.444.0707 for more.

Bandelier National Monument Frijoles Canyon Visitor Center Operating Hours Summer hours 9 AM to 6 PM during shuttle season
(mid May to mid October) Visitor Center Winter Hours are 9 AM to 5 PM.

Directions from Los Alamos

30 minutes each way

  • Take Diamond Drive towards Los Alamos National Laboratory, passing Los Alamos Medical Center. Cross Otowi Bridge and bear right.
  • After passing the light, continue towards the Laboratory Vehicle Access Portal. Take any lane indicated by the a green arrow. You don’t have to stop at the booth unless the country is at high alert.
  • Continue up Hwy 501, through Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • At the next stop sign, turn left onto New Mexico 4, following the sign towards Bandelier National Monument.
  • Bandelier’s entrance is on your right.
Directions from Santa Fe

1 hour each way

  • Take Saint Francis Drive (HWY 84/285) north toward Los Alamos.
  • After passing Pojoaque, merge right onto New Mexico 502 to Los Alamos.
  • Continue up 502 toward Los Alamos. Bear right and exit onto New Mexico 4 towards White Rock. Continue for 12 miles, passing White Rock.
  • Bandelier’s entrance is on your left.
Directions from Taos

1.5 hours each way

  • Take New Mexico 68 (Paseo del Pueblo Sur) south for 47 miles.
  • In Espanola, turn right onto Fairway. Left at next stoplight on Hwy 84/285.
  • At stoplight near Ford Dealership turn right on Hwy 30. Follow 30 through Santa Clara Pueblo to junction with Hwy 502. Merge right onto 502 toward Los Alamos.
  • Bear right and exit onto New Mexico 4 towards White Rock. Continue for 12 miles, passing White Rock.
  • Bandelier’s entrance is on the left.
Directions from Albuquerque

Approximately 2 hours each way

  • Take I-25 north towards Santa Fe for approx 45 miles.
  • Take exit for US599 to avoid Santa Fe traffic (otherwise continue to exit for 84/285 and follow directions from Santa Fe). Continue for 13 miles.
  • Bear left to merge onto U.S. 84/285 towards Los Alamos.
  • After passing Pojoaque, merge right onto New Mexico 502 to Los Alamos.
  • At the top of a big uphill climb bear right onto New Mexico 4 towards White Rock. Continue for 12 miles, passing White Rock.
  • Bandelier’s entrance is on the left.
Photos: Bandelier National Monument | Leslie E. Bucklin
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