Visitors driving into Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument should expect brief road closures or delays during the week of April 4-8 while the park re-paves parking areas near the Visitor Center.
During the week there will be days when flaggers will be coordinating visitor traffic and the large trucks carrying hot mix for paving, followed by days when the traffic will also include heavy equipment paving a short piece of new road connecting to the entrance road. Construction delays are never fun, but when it’s all over, visitors will again have use of the picnic area that has been unusable for almost five years.
The work is due to flashfloods resulting from the Las Conchas Fire in 2011, which heavily damaged the picnic and parking areas across from the Visitor Center, washed away the foot bridges, and necessitated the removal of the road bridge. Contractors began the rehabilitation last fall using funds largely from the Federal Highway Administration, and paving is expected to begin around April 4.
Work is planned to start at the north end of the picnic area, and will include the road, pullouts, parking spots, and trails to the pedestrian bridges. The last section is a short new roadway going across the new auto bridge at the south end of the backpacker parking area and connecting to the entrance road.
After the paving is completed there will still be follow-up work to complete before the area can be used, including striping, placing protective boulders, and bringing back the picnic tables. Park staff hope to be able to reopen it for visitors by early May. Drinking fountains are already in place and working, but unfortunately it will probably be several years before plumbing can be restored to the picnic area restrooms.
“For everyone who has fond memories of having picnics along the creek, it won’t be long before it will be possible again,” Facility Manager Joseph Gurule said. “The floods did a lot of damage, and things will look a little different, but we’re looking forward to making that area available to visitors by sometime in May.”