Shadow at Tyuonyi Entrance on Solstice Morning. Courtesy/Bandelier
First on the list is Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, shortest day of the year and the point on the calendar when the days begin to lengthen again.
The Sunrise Walk meets at 7 a.m. in front of the Visitor Center, and the Sunset Walk meets at 1:30 p.m. on the back porch. The times are a reminder that sunrise and sunset happen at different times in the bottom of the 400-foot-deep canyon than they do in the wide open landscapes on the mesa tops.
No signups are required for these walks, but participants should be sure to dress warmly. If the sky is overcast, the walks will be held the following day.
Many peoples all over the world recognized the solstices and built markers into structures or found them in the surrounding landscape. The Ancestral Pueblo people in Frijoles Canyon may have built parts of Tyuonyi, the large pueblo on the canyon bottom, in alignment with the sunrise and sunset on the Winter Solstice.
Weather permitting, Bandelier will be open every day through the holidays, The Visitor Center, book store, restaurant, and administrative offices in Frijoles Canyon will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Almost certainly there will be many visitors coming to walk the trails and enjoy the sights.
“If the days are mild and sunny that last week of December, we expect lots of visitors,” Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott said. “People have family visiting and they all want to get out of the house, and people who are here from other parts of the country want to enjoy the park’s unique charms. We ask everyone to stay on the trails and take good care of this fragile place that belongs to all of us.”
For more information about Bandelier National Monument, contact the Bandelier Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517 or visit www.nps.gov/band, on Facebook, BandelierNPS.
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