33,000 acres of vast canyon and mesa country fill up what is known as the Bandelier National Monument. Here you'll find evidence of human presence dating back to over 11,000 years ago with the sightings of petraglyphs, dwellings carved into rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls. Strap on your hiking shoes and get ready to explore this beautiful piece of New Mexico!
Take a look at some of the monument's landscape and history in this video:
With wetlands, canyon areas, woodlands, pine forests, conifer forests, aspen groves, and grasslands, Bandelier National Monument houses a wide swath of climate differences that make it possible for many different types of life to exist. This diversity in climate and organisms is what made it possible for the Ancestral Pueblo people to live in this area and provided them with medicine, food, clothing, and various other supplies. One type of animal that you'll more than likely see flitting around the monument are the Abert's squirrels. These little guys can be found throughout the monument wherever there are enough Ponderosa pines to feed their nutritional needs. While similar to a typical squirrel, the Abert's squirrels differ by their dark gray colored backs with a red-brown patch, white bellies, and long fluffy white tails. Perhaps the most notable feature of the Abert's squirrels are their big tufted ears.
With so many acres of land at the monument, the area has over 70 miles of hiking trails and two cross country ski trails to be explored. Whether you're looking for a shorter, easier trail or a long trek into the backcountry of the monument, you're sure to find it here. Short easy loops and steep rocky switchbacks pepper the landscape making the monument perfect for a trip with family or friends.
Cover photo by Sally King via NPS.