Our trip to New Mexico was really nice. After we spent a day each at Petroglyph National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, we drove up into the mountains to visit Bandelier National Monument. My mama told me that she and her family used to camp there often when she was my age.
The main part of Bandelier is in Frijoles Canyon. (That means Beans Canyon- isn't that silly?) The walls of the canyon are made of compacted volcanic ash, called tuff. The rock is really soft, which is why there are so many holes and depressions in the walls. The Ancestral Puebloan people used the holes as places to live- you can tell where they were because the roofs are blackened from the smoke of their fires.
My family did the Main Loop Trail. It's a bit over a mile long and you can buy a trail guide in the park's bookstore.
You walk through the bottom of the canyon and then climb about through some of the cavates in the canyon walls. Cavates are the holes in the canyon walls- they're like tiny caves!
Visitors can climb ladders into some of the higher caves. Here I am looking down from a cavate onto Tyuonyi Pueblo below. Wouldn't it have been a beautiful place to live? When the Ancestral Puebloan people lived here, they grew the Three Sisters- corn, beans, and squash. Yum!
After we wound past the ancient homes, the trail goes through a little forest by the Frijoles Creek. There was a big flood not long ago, so there were downed trees everywhere. There were also places where you could see big piles of brush all gathered up around the bases of the trees. The damage was so bad that half of the parking lot isn't usable anymore, which is sad.
At the end of the trail, I went back to the park bookstore. There, a friendly ranger swore me in as a Bandelier Junior Ranger. As always, I promised to explore, learn, and protect our nation's park areas.
Bandelier was a great park to visit. I hope I can go back someday with friends. If you'd like to learn more about Bandelier National Monument, visit nps.gov/band!
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