THIS WAS ONLY THE SECOND TIME I’VE BEEN OUT OF TAOS COUNTY SINCE MARCH 2020. This was my first trip outside of Taos County since June! Although Bandelier is not new to me, the trip was remarkable in so many ways!
I online ordered myself a Christmas gift: a new camera! from Target. Early this morning I drove down to pick it up curbside. It was like 7:45 a.m. when I was driving north out of Santa Fe and a voice inside said Let’s Go to Bandelier! I immediately swung into that westbound exit lane. I had the idea to visit planted over Thanksgiving weekend. I saw on Twitter that it would be a nice time for a visit. Indeed. BUT, I didn’t want to go and brave all those people. The first weekend of December, so early in the morning, I figured I would be in the clear. And I was right! I drove right into historic parking lot and I was the only one on the trail. I love the historic, 1930s feel of Bandelier. Very Old West meets Pueblo design. This chain and water barrel spout also gave me some sustainability ideas for my future home.
Here is a long view of the Frijoles Canyon cliffs – and the dwellings. You can see the mudbrick re-creation of what a home looked for the Ancestral Pueblo People who lived here 1150 CE to 1550 CE.
I was so inspired by the stillness and beauty of the place, I decided to hike up Frey Trail toward the Frijoles Campground on the rim. The elevation gain was approximately 400′, but the path was graded so steadily and smoothly through a series of switchbacks. I immediately thought it was good for horses/mules, which was probably the original intent. So although I broke a sweat and had a good workout on the trail climb, it wasn’t steep and I wasn’t dying. I was really enjoying myself. When I got near the top, I had this clean shot of Tyuonyi (pronouned “Qu-weh-nee”). You can see it was a circular house/village that once stood two stories tall and had 400-plus interconnected rooms, most of which were used for storing food. (This is just like the builds in Chaco Canyon.)
I had hoped to see some wildlife up top! But saw none. When I returned back down to the canyon floor, I came across a male mule deer (a buck) who looked at me for only a second before he went back to eating uninterrupted, unbothered by presence.
He was accompanied by a herd of 4-5 females, as well as this lounging young buck right along trailside.
It was a great visit! And I can’t wait to back! I absolutely love it there. Afterward, I drove to Los Alamos and had a green chile cheeseburger from El Parasol. An Epic Excursion!
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