Last summer, fires burned over 60 percent of the land in Bandelier National Monument and then flash floods came in taking out a parking lot and destroying many of the trails. We weren't sure what we would see when we decided to go there today.
You now have to take a shuttle to Bandelier from White Rock. We parked in the parking lot and waited about 10 minutes for the shuttle to arrive. We loaded on and went on a 20 minute ride to reach the visitor's center.
After the brief introductory lecture about the facilities, we ate lunch at the picnic area and then took the trail to the Upper Falls. It would be a 3 mile round trip and started just beyond the visitor's center. The trail was wide and well marked, there was a lot of uphill and downhill walking, but overall it was pretty easy.
There were some gorgeous views!
We arrived at the falls, it drops about 80 feet and was really pretty. Apparently, much of the vegetation on the bottom was washed away in the flood, but it was still nice.
This was the view looking the other way towards the Rio Grande River. It's right below the mountain in the back.
There used to be another one mile trail leading to the Rio Grande and the lower falls, but that was washed away in the flood.
We made it back from the falls and went the other way to see the archeological exhibits, taking the Long House trail through the park. We took the winding sidewalk towards the rock wall.
As we got closer, we realized there were people up around the walls. Towards the middle of the wall, there are three dots in the middle, those are people.
There are ladders and trails leading around the wall with other ladders you can climb to explore inside.
After going through the Long House, we headed toward the Alcove House. On our way, I saw something white flash by out of the corner of my eye. We stopped and watched and realized it was an Albert's Squirrel.
We headed on down the trail, we thought it was down until we came back and realized it had been all uphill. We got to the Alcove House. It is a giant natural alcove carved into the rock that Indians used hundreds of years ago.
It is 140 feet up climbing ladders and stairs. I knew I could get up there, but I wasn't sure about coming down the very top ladder. I had been to Mesa Verde and climbed those ladders and was scared to death. I didn't really want to do it again, so I rested on the log while Jim made the climb.
That's him at the top. It was a good thing he was wearing a red shirt so he could be seen.
This is the picture using the 300mm zoom lens.
Here's the view from inside. Not too shabby.
There is also a reconstructed kiva that you can climb inside.
After Jim came down, we headed back another mile to the visitor's center. We had hiked a little over 5 miles today and we were pooped. We caught the shuttle back to the parking lot and headed back home. We took a wrong turn, but got to see this gorgeous scenery.