Bandelier Has Re-Opened

Bandelier National Monument. Courtesy/NPS


Bandelier National Monument re-opened at noon Thursday after having been closed by the 16-Day government shutdown. The reopening comes just in time to celebrate Sunday’s National Archeology Day and National Wilderness Day.

“It’s a great time of year to come to the park,” Superintendent Jason Lott said. “The canyon is bright with autumn colors, the weather forecast is calling for a classic New Mexico October day, and it will be a great chance to learn about two of the most important aspects of Bandelier, wilderness and archeology.”

Sunday morning, the park Trail Program Lead, Dale Coker, will be leading a wilderness hike from Ponderosa Group Campground to Upper Crossing and then down Frijoles Canyon to the Visitor Center. Flooding this summer and fall scoured and eroded the canyon, leaving little trace of the trail and making much of the route beautiful in a different, wilder way than before.

The hike is more than seven miles, much of it done by walking in the creek. Hikers need to wear sturdy shoes that are suitable for walking both on dry trail and in the creek. They should also dress for the weather, wear hats, and bring sunscreen, water, lunch, and snacks. The hike will probably take 4-6 hours. Meet at 8 a.m. at Ponderosa Campground.

Although National Archeology Day is actually Saturday, this year due to effects of the shutdown, Bandelier will observe it Sunday. In the morning, a ranger will give visitors a chance to try out an atlatl, the deceptively simple but very effective spearthrower that early peoples in most of the world used before they had bows and arrows.

In the afternoon Visitor Center staff will invite visitors to try painting with yucca brushes and clay slip, the traditional materials that Pueblo potters have used for centuries to decorate their work. Through the day a table in the lobby will offer jigsaw puzzles depicting the main archeological sites for kids and their families to put together.  

Bandelier visitors on their way to the park need to remember to stop off at the Los Alamos County Visitor Center in White Rock to catch one of the free shuttle buses. Before 9 a.m. and after 3 p.m., drivers are welcome to come on down to the main parking lot in Frijoles Canyon in their own vehicles.

For more information on the Sunday activities, shuttles, or other park questions, contact the Bandelier Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. 

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