Five Must-Do Activities at Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument, located in northwestern New Mexico, is a beautiful and significant cultural site, preserving centuries of art and architecture from human inhabitants, dating back more than 11,000 years. Encompassing more than 33,000 acres of rugged, beautiful canyon and mesa country, there is so much to see, appreciate, and explore, so start planning your trip today!

Frijoles Loop Trail (courtesy of NPS).

Hike the Trails

Bandelier’s hiking trails are more than just a beautiful outdoor recreational experience. They will take you on a cultural journey through thousands of years of human and natural history. The Pueblo Loop and Frijolito Loop Trails are popular with visitors, but there are many trails to explore. There are even trails for cross-country skiing in the winter!

Check out some of the hiking experiences at Bandelier National Monument!

Western National Park Association (WNPA) offers guides for many of Bandelier’s unique trails. Deepening historical, cultural, and natural understanding of the trail, WNPA trail guides are available online and at WNPA-operated park stores located in visitor centers. The trail guides educate travelers about the park’s architecture, archaeology, and the diverse communities who inhabited and contributed to the sites along the trail.

Bandelier Backcountry Trail (courtesy of NPS).

Take a Ranger-Guided Tour

The park rangers at Bandelier National Monument lead a variety of tours. These include adventures with the Backcountry Ranger for a more adventurous hikes as well as walks by the light of a full moon. Ranger-guided tours are offered as staffing permits, so please check the National Park Service website or call the visitor center for availability.

Moonrise over the mountains in Bandelier National Monument (courtesy of NPS).

Stargazing and Night Sky Programs

Appreciate the wonders of the night sky with ranger-led programs after dark. While the park closes at dusk, you can register for stargazing and astronomy interpretive programs for phenomenal recreational, educational, and inspirational experiences. As of March 2022, the monument is pursuing designation as an International Dark Sky Park, because half the park is after dark!

Elk Pond in autumn (courtesy of NPS).

Splash in the Monument’s Fresh Waters

Bandelier National Monument preserves scenic rivers and streams, including the Rio Grande, which forms the monument’s southern boundary. You can also take the Fall Trail for a beautiful view of the Upper Falls, one of the many waterfalls along Frijoles Creek. If you’re really feeling adventurous, look into boating in White Rock Canyon, which takes you to a less-often-visited part of the monument. Be sure to check the NPS website to plan your boating trip.

Campsite at Juniper campground (courtesy of NPS).

Camp and Enjoy an Immersive Experience

Camping at Bandelier National Monument accommodates all types of campers and all sizes of camping groups. The Juniper Family Campground hosts 53 individual sites and two group campsites, which accommodate groups of 10 to 20 people. The Ponderosa Group Campground can host two groups of up to 50 people! So, whether you are making family memories or hosting a company retreat, Bandelier’s campgrounds are among the best for exploring the park and the entire Pajarito Plateau. Visit the NPS website to plan your camping adventure!

Abert’s squirrel at Bandelier National Monument (courtesy of NPS).

Commune with Nature

Not only does Bandelier National Monument preserve significant cultural and historical artifacts, the park’s uniquely diverse ecosystem makes it the perfect home to hundreds of species of animals and plants. Whether you love listening to beautiful birdcalls, observing the brilliant colors of pollinator-attracting blossoms, or witnessing the awe-inspiring presence of one of the park’s many mammals, you’ll find a landscape that is teeming with life—don’t forget your camera and to leave no trace!

By: Julie Thompson