Bandelier National Monument: Hiking trails, cliff dwellings & ruins

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

New Mexico has some fabulous hiking spots but one of our favorites is Bandelier National Monument.

Located about an hour from Santa Fe or two hours from Albuquerque, Bandelier’s 33,000 acres contain cliff dwellings where the Pueblo people built homes in the rock cliffs, petroglyphs, and evidence of even earlier life, when nomadic people occupied the land over 10,000 years ago.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

In 1880, Adolph Francis Bandelier came to the area to study the dwelling sites, later publishing both scientific reports and a fictional book based on Pueblo life, “The Delight Makers.” Bandelier, along with other archeologists, emphasized the importance of preserving the site, which in 1916 was accomplished when  President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to establish the national monument, naming it after Bandelier.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Hiking Bandelier National Monument

With over 70 miles of trails at Bandelier, there’s something for everyone, with trails ranging from short, easy loops to steep, long switchbacks.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Main Loop Trail

The Main Loop Trail is a short, partially handicapped accessible, 1.2 mile loop that begins at the visitor center. The trail is well-maintained and takes about an hour to complete, allowing for stops along the way. The upper parts of the trail near the cliff dwellings require some climbing of stairs, which have handrails.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Main Loop Trail winds along the floor of the Frijoles Canyon past archeological sites such as the Big Kiva, which, according to the park, once had a roof covering it and was a communal meeting place.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The remains of the Tyuonyi (Qu-weh-nee) village is estimated to have once been two stories with over 400 rooms.

The Puebloan people used volcanic tuff blocks, which is relatively soft and breaks easily, to construct the homes. The blocks of tuffs were held together with a mortar mud mixture. Ponderosa pines from nearby were used to make vigas, rough-hewn beams to support the roofs.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Continuing on, the trail leads to the cliff dwellings called cavates, or small human-carved alcoves. Ladders allow visitors to climb up to view the cavates.

Greg Hull at Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Greg Hull at Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Stops are numbered along the trail and trail guides with coordinating descriptions are available in the visitor’s center.

The views from the elevated section of the trail near the cliff dwellings are quite spectacular.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

So, why did some of the Puebloan people live in the cliff dwellings and some live in the Tyuonyi village?

It’s believed that both were occupied during the same period and that the village on the canyon floor would have been used during the summer. During the winters, the south-facing cliff dwellings would have been warmer than on the canyon floor.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Dwellings along the canyon wall were often multiple stories, which can be determined by the number of rows of viga holes.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Main Loop Trail also passes Talus House, which was reconstructed in 1920.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Other Bandolier National Monument Trails

The Alcove Trail connects to Main Loop at the half way point, adding an additional 1 mile to the hike round trip. The Alcove Trail section leads to Alcove House, which is located 140 feet above the canyon floor.

The 1.5 mile Falls Trail starts near the visitors center, leading to the Upper Falls. The Falls Trail should not be attempted when winter conditions are present. Do not drink the water.

Bandelier National Monument’s Tsankawi section is located 12 miles from the visitor center. 1.5 miles in length, the Tsankawi trail leads to cavates, petroglyphs, a mesa and the ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi. The Tsankawi section should not be attempted when winter conditions are present.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Know before you go

Hours & seasons. Bandelier National Monument is open daily, year-round except Christmas and New Years Day, from dawn to dusk except during heavy snow days or other emergencies. Backpacking permits must be obtained at the Frijoles Canyon Visitor Center for any overnight stays in the park’s backcountry.

Shuttle bus. During the summer months between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM, all Bandelier National Monument visitors, except vehicles displaying disability tags, are required to take a free shuttle bus from the White Rock visitor center to access the main visitor area of Bandelier National Monument, including the visitor center, Main Loop Trail, and Falls Trail. Shuttles run approximately every 30 minutes weekdays, and 20 minutes on weekends. The shuttle is free, however the park entrance fee still applies. Before 9AM, and after 3PM, all vehicles may drive directly to the park.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

What to bring. Temperatures are high in the summer at Bandelier, so bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen & a hat. Thunderstorms, which can have hail and lightning, are frequent in the summer afternoons and flash flooding can occur.

Watch for bears and rattlesnakes.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Related

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Things to do in Albuquerque

Cover: Shopping in Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Albuquerque is a city awash in color. From brilliant blue skies to amazing pink-hewn sunsets against the Sandia mountains, to brightly colored items for sale in boutiques, Albuquerque dazzles the senses.

Things to do in Albequerque: Visit Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Visit Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Richly influenced by the Native Americans, who have lived in the area for thousands of years, Albuquerque is a vibrant, yet relaxing city offering visitors numerous things to do.

Stroll through Old Town Albuquerque

Things to do in Albequerque: Visit Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Visit Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Albuquerque was founded in 1706 when the Spanish settled near the Rio Grande River, in what is now referred to as Old Town. Today, Old Town is a perfect place to grab lunch and enjoy an afternoon leisurely strolling the historic district. Centered around a charming plaza, Old Town is a collection of adobe structures with long porches and bright accents of color.

Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Quiet paths wind through the buildings, leading to courtyards, hidden gardens, patios and water features scattered amidst the art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and museums.

Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A wide selection of Southwestern jewelry, paintings, artwork, crafts, and textiles are available in the 150 shops in the area.

Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Church of San Felipe de Neri Parish

San Felipe de Neri Parish, Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
San Felipe de Neri Parish, Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

When Spanish settlers arrived in Albuquerque, the first building they built was a church, San Felipe de Neri. Under the direction of Fray Manuel Moreno, a Franciscan priest, San Felipe de Neri was built in 1706 and first named San Francisco Xavier, after the Viceroy of New Spain. The name was soon changed to San Felipe de Neri in honor of King Philip of Spain. In 1792, the church was destroyed and rebuilt the following year. With the exception of its brick floor, south entrance and tin ceiling, the church visitors tour in Old Town today is the same as it was in 1793.

San Felipe de Neri Parish, Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
San Felipe de Neri Parish, Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Watch 500 hot air balloons take flight at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Every October, balloonists from around the globe gather in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the world’s largest event, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Albuquerque’s ideal flying conditions make it a favorite location for ballooning enthusiasts, bringing them back year after year. Each morning the sky fills with hundreds of hot air balloons, as thousands of onlookers watch and photograph the activities.

Go ghost hunting in downtown Albuquerque

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Blake, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Year-round, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk takes guests on a 90 minute, lantern-lit walking tour of downtown Albuquerque stopping at buildings along the 1.3 miles / 2.1 kms that are thought to be haunted, weaving in historic tales of the area along the way. At each stop, Albucreepy provides some history on the location, the associated folklore, and then leaves it to the group to draw their own conclusions.

View 24,000 petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located on the west edge of Albuquerque, Petroglyph National Monument is the perfect place to take a hike and explore the 24,000 petroglyphs on volcanic rocks at the park. Several trail options wind through the New Mexico desert next to petroglyphs dating back 400 to 700 years.

Soar through the skies of Albuquerque

Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloons, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloons, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

There’s nothing like soaring through the skies in a hot air balloon, taking in the panoramic views, to appreciate the beauty of a region and what better place to do so than in the hot air ballooning capital of the world, Albuquerque. The famous Albuquerque box enables balloonists to journey to the north and then, by changing elevation, find winds blowing in the opposite direction to return them to the launch site. Albuquerque’s outstanding weather and highly experienced ballooning community make it an ideal location to take flight on a hot air balloon adventure.

Hot air ballooning
Hot air ballooning
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Things to do near Albuquerque…

Spend a day in Santa Fe

San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe, New Mexico
San Miguel Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Only an hour away from Albuquerque, Santa Fe is a great day trip destination where you can explore Santa Fe’s legendary Canyon Road art galleries, visit a dozen museums, shop the boutiques and markets, drop by the oldest church in the United States, and answer the lunchtime question, “Red or green?” Referring to the common question when ordering New Mexican food, as in red or green chile sauce, the food in Santa Fe is stellar and, as to how to answer the question – try it “Christmas” or with both.

Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Explore the cave dwellings at Bandelier National Monument at Los Alamos

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Home to the Ancestral Pueblo people between 1150-1550, Bandelier National Monument is located in Los Alamos, about two hours outside of Albuquerque. A fascinating spot to explore, Bandelier’s 33,000 acres contain cliff dwellings where the Pueblo people built homes in the rock cliffs, petroglyphs, and evidence of even earlier life when nomadic people occupied the land over 10,000 years ago.

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Know before you go

Plan early for visiting during Balloon Fiesta. Hotels sell out early during Balloon Fiesta, so plan as early as possible for the best selection of accommodations, especially near Fiesta Park.

Summers are warm & tend to have some daily rain. Temperatures frequently reach the high 90s in the summer and afternoon rain showers are frequent, something to keep in mind if planning on hiking.

Drink water and put on the sunscreen. Albuquerque is at an elevation of 5,000 feet and has an arid climate, so staying well-hydrated will decrease the likelihood of altitude sickness and help your body adjust. Also, remember to reapply sunscreen often as the UV rays are stronger at elevation.

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

 

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Ghost hunting with Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk

Cover: Blake, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Who knew that when the sun sets on the town known for blue skies, hot air balloons, and green chile that a multitude of ghosts would be lurking around the corner?

Apparently, as a result of horrific accidents, murders, and other frightful tragedies, paranormal activity has taken up residence in what looks to be, on the surface at least, the quiet night streets of downtown Albuquerque.

Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Head out for a 90-minute lantern-lit stroll on the Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk and those seemingly empty alleys and buildings may have your skin crawling with otherworldliness.

An evening of ghost hunting in Albuquerque

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Our Albucreepy evening began at the Albuquerque Tourism & Sightseeing Factory, which is located in the old First National Bank Building near the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque. Year-round, Albucreepy takes guests on a 1.3 mile / 2.1 km walking tour, stopping at buildings that are thought to be haunted, and weaving in historic tales of the area along the way.

Before the tour started, one of our guides for the evening, Jordan Jonas, entertained the group with skillful sleight of hand, then it was down the stairs to the creepy old haunted basement.

Jordan Jonas, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jordan Jonas, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Led by paranormal investigators, Blake and Jordan, we headed out through the dark streets on our paranormal adventure. At each stop, Blake or Jordan provided the history of the location, the associated folklore, and then left it to the group to draw their own conclusions.

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Blake & Jordan, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

What ghosts linger in Albuquerque’s haunted and historic locations?

Well, that would spoil the tour, now wouldn’t it? Let’s just say the tour covers…

The location of a shootout near the convention center

Blake, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Blake, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Wool Warehouse theatre

Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A commercial laundry where a female seems to never get the laundry finished (now that is really scary)

Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The old Bernalillo County courthouse

Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The KiMo Theatre where a little boy named Bobby was killed when a hot water heater exploded

Jordan Jonas, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jordan Jonas, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The mysterious light that comes on in a building with no electricity

Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

and Hell’s Half Acre, Albuquerque’s former red light district.

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At each location along the way, Blake and Jordan share stories that will be sure to send a chill down your spine.

Blake, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Blake, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Jordan Jonas, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jordan Jonas, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Creepy good times

Blake & Kim, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Blake & Kim, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Albucreepy tour participants are encouraged to bring their cameras and are even provided some pointers to assist with photographing orbs and apparitions to create that ever-so unique Facebook post. (No, we didn’t capture any images of those who have passed over to the other side). They also point out how to spot fake ghosts in photos.

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Additionally, Albucreepy attendees are educated on the methods that paranormal investigators employ in their hunt for ghosts, such as electronic voice phenomenon, or EVP, and they explain why most reported spirits are a result of traumatic endings.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it makes for an entertaining evening where you’ll learn about Albuquerque’s history – so booook a tour today!

Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk: Know before you go

Blake, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Blake, Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tickets and additional information are available on the Albucreepy website.

Wear comfortable shoes. The tour is 1.3 miles / 2.1 km of walking and takes about 90 minutes, so comfortable shoes will make the experience more enjoyable.

Ghosts don’t mind a bit of weather. The tour occurs year-round in all types of weather unless the sidewalks are not walkable. The majority of the tour is outside on the streets of downtown Albuquerque, so dress appropriately for the conditions and temperature.

Not for children. The tour contains a discussion of murders, suicides, and gruesome deaths, so it is probably too frightening for children and Albucreepy strongly suggests that young children do not attend and rates the tour PG-13.

Fido is welcome to join the group. Well-behaved, friendly pets and service animals are welcome on the tour.

Arrive a little early. If you’ve purchased a ticket online, arrive 15 minutes early. Allow for 30 minutes if you plan to buy your ticket on site.

Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albucreepy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Albucreepy for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used. Some posts on this website may contain links to our partners’ websites and Chasing Light Media may be compensated by those partners.