One of the Atomic City Transit shuttle buses that will carry visitors from White Rock to Bandelier National Monument May 14 to Oct. 15 this year. Courtesy/NPS
It’s been a busy spring at Bandelier National Monument. There have been many days when it was very noticeable that there’s just not enough parking in Frijoles Canyon near the Visitor Center, and visitors and rangers alike wished the shuttles were running.
Now the waiting is over – the shuttles will start back up this Sunday, May 14. On the same day, the Bandelier Visitor Center hours will lengthen to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the Los Alamos County White Rock Visitor Center hours to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The shuttles are free, have really big windows to take in the scenery along the way, and run seven days a week from this Sunday through mid-October. Starting at 9 a.m., they leave the White Rock Visitor Center every half hour on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends. Every run stops at Juniper Campground and then proceeds to the Bandelier Visitor Center, and stops at the campground again on its way back to White Rock. This way visitors traveling by way of Jemez Springs don’t have to drive all the way to White Rock.
In addition, visitors can get off at the campground stop and walk down the Frey Trail if they wish, a scenic approach to Frijoles Canyon for those who are prepared for a two-mile hike. At the end of their visit, they can then ride the shuttle back, avoiding the long uphill return trail, which many hikers appreciate especially on very hot afternoons or during thunderstorms.
“The County of Los Alamos and Atomic City Transit provide us with terrific, badly needed help,” Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott said. “We just don’t have enough parking, and the shuttles make it possible for visitors to have a relaxed, enjoyable day at the park without having to wait in a long line for a parking space. They even got special buses for this purpose, and the drivers are the best!”
Visitors who arrive at the park before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m. may drive into Frijoles Canyon without taking the shuttles. In addition, there are exceptions for visitors with disability placards on their vehicle, those starting an overnight hike into the backcountry, traveling with pets, coming on park business, and organized groups traveling in their own bus or vans.
Anyone wishing to camp in Juniper Campground can drive into the campground at any time, but then must use the shuttle to access the Visitor Center area unless they are eligible for one of the exceptions or it is before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m. Juniper Campground has restrooms, water faucets, and a dump station with potable water but no hookups. Prospective campers who prefer to have hookups may want to consider the RV parking area at the White Rock Visitor Center. It offers hookups for water and electricity and a dump station. The fee there is $20/night, paid night by night by credit card at a fee machine in the parking area, and there are no discounts. Beginning on Sunday, the White Rock Visitor Center will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., the hours when most visitors are required to use the shuttle, a member of the park staff will be on duty at the Bandelier entrance station to provide information and assistance.
For more details about the shuttle service, or other information about Bandelier National Monument, contact the monument Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517. Bandelier also has a website, www.nps.gov/band, and a Facebook page, BandelierNPS.