The eastern sky driving into Bandelier National Monument at about 7 a.m. Dec. 22, 2012 for the winter solstice. Photo by TK Thompson
All over the world, people have kept track of the passing of the seasons with markers built into such things as structures, stones and the horizon.
At Bandelier, there are several places that may mark the position of the sun on dates including the solstices and equinoxes. One of them is the entryway to Tyuonyi, the large pueblo in Frijoles Canyon. Sunday, Dec. 21, is this year’s Winter Solstice. It will be the annual ranger-guided walk to watch as the sun rises over the canyon walls and casts shadows in alignment with Tyuonyi’s entry walls.
There is no way to be sure that the pueblo was built that way on purpose, but Winter Solstice is an important date to many cultures. In the northern hemisphere, is the day that the sun turns back northward and days begin to lengthen, promising the return of warm days and growing crops.
The walk begins at 7:15 a.m. in front of the Visitor Center and lasts about an hour; the trail is level and paved, and only about 400 yards each way. No sign-ups are required. Participants should dress warmly, in layers and with warm shoes. If the sky is overcast, the walk will be rescheduled for the following day. For more information, call the Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517.
Information about other events and ongoing activities is available by visiting the Bandelier National Monument website at www.nps.gov/band or the park Facebook page at BandelierNPS.