Sign at the entrance to Bandelier National Monument Courtesy/NPS
There’s only a little over a week before summer “unofficially” ends on Labor Day, and Bandelier National Monument will be offering lots of activities to encourage people to come out and enjoy the time in between.
Aug. 25 is a special day at National Park areas all over the country, since it is Founders Day, the day in 1916 that the National Park Service (NPS) was established. This year it is a Fee Free Day, when entrance fees are waived at all NPS areas. At Bandelier, the Western National Parks bookstore will offer a 15 percent discount on all items, and the Bandelier Trading Company giftshop will have specials as well.
Saturday Aug. 23 and Monday Aug. 25, there will be special ranger-guided hikes led by Trailwork Lead Dale Coker. Saturday’s hike will meet at the Alamo Boundary trailhead in the upper section of the park. This will be a 3.5 mile loop around the Alamo Boundary area, near the headwaters of Alamo Canyon, a beautiful and lightly-visited portion of the Bandelier high country.
The hiking is easy except for a moderately strenuous climb up to Rabbit Ridge (0.75 mile) for a great view of the Valles Caldera. Total hiking time should be around three hours. Participants should bring food, plenty of water, sturdy hiking boots and appropriate clothing for weather conditions and high altitude. Hiking poles would be helpful. Reservations are required since the group size is limited to 10; for directions, details, and to sign up call the Bandelier Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517.
The hike Monday, Aug. 25 will go out along the monument’s east boundary, providing great views of Frijoles Canyon, the Bandelier Wilderness, and ending with a magnificent view of the mouth of Frijoles Creek hundreds of feet below. The hike is entirely off-trail, less than a mile each way, on rocky uneven surfaces, and should take less than two hours. Interested hikers should meet at 9 a.m. in the main parking lot in Frijoles Canyon. Good hiking shoes, hat, sunscreen,and water are necessities, and a walking stick or hiking poles would be helpful. Since hikers will be arriving before 9 a.m., they can drive into the canyon without taking the shuttle bus. This hike also will be offered at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, Public Lands Day.
This weekend and the next, which is Labor Day weekend, the Visitor Center will be offering a number of special activities. Both weekends there will be local Pueblo crafts demonstrators. Aug. 23-24, Carolyn Lovato of Santo Domingo Pueblo will be showing jewelry and turkey feather blankets, and on Labor Day weekend, Andrea Fragua of Jemez Pueblo will be showing traditional pottery. Each of the Saturday evenings there will be a Ranger Evening Program at the Juniper Campground Amphitheater. On both Aug. 23 and 30, the program will be “Reflections on Frijoles Canyon.” And Friday, Aug. 29, marks the last Nightwalk of this summer. This silent walk among the Ancestral Pueblo dwellings in Frijoles Canyon is always popular, so signups are necessary; call the Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517.
The summer may be drawing to a close, but Bandelier has two very special activities coming up in September. Save these dates: Saturday, Sept. 20 is the third annual Opera on the Rocks, with selections from “Don Giovanni” being presented at the Juniper Campground Amphitheater. Tickets can be ordered at www.guildsofsfo.org/LA. Then Saturday, Sept. 27, is the park’s Fall Festival, with Pueblo artists and other activities. And it is a Fee Free Day too, as is Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11. In October there will be activities connected to the anniversary of the Bandelier Wilderness. Watch for details.
For more information about Bandelier National Monument, check the park website at www.nps.gov/band or call the Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517.