Bandelier National Monument Road Trip

The month of May was incredibly rainy for Colorado. For a state that typically has 300+ days of sunshine a year, an entire month that it rains almost everyday is pretty rare and infuriating. We’re here for the sun! There was very little outdoor activity we could enjoy during this month, and I was feeling quite cooped up. I decided to chase the sun.

We decided to go to Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, near Los Alamos. There was camping, hiking, and a bit of climbing to do there. And there was sun!

Bandelier National Monument is a valley with Pueblo cliff dwellings carved into the conglomerate rock walls. It’s pretty amazing to see how this culture made there homes.

Our campsite at the Juniper Campground was quite nice, and Greta making racks of lamb, steaks, asparagus, etc over the fire made it even better.

Greta’s brother, Lars, and I wanted to go climbing and found there was a crag just outside of White Rock. The parking lot is basically still in town, you walk 10 minutes out a rocky spine and down to the cliff and there are 70+ routes in volcanic basalt with an amazing view over the Rio Grande.

 The sport climbing was quite sandbagged, but the trad was very fun. Not quite a destination for climbing, but a great thing to do while you’re there.

On the hike out Lars let out quite the scream. We thought he’d fallen into a cactus. He’d found himself a friend.

We climbed our way around the rattler, but I had to go back and take photos. Unfortunately he didn’t want to pose for me.

We hiked from our campsite to Bandelier and went to the Alcove House. You have to climb up a couple hundred feet and several very tall ladders to get up to see this Pueblo structure. They speculate that someone used this for weaving since they found a loom inside. Why someone would climb all the way up here just to weave is beyond me though.

We stayed at a very nice AirBnB in Sante Fe, went and looked at art, and seriously thought about buying a piece from Eric Boyer, who makes incredible steel mesh sculptures. The crazy amount of detail that are in the sculptures is amazing, but it’s even better when you see the shadows the pieces produce when a light is shined through them. The shadow looks almost like an intricate charcoal drawing.

On the drive home from Sante Fe I missed a turn and stayed on US 84 too long. By the time I figured it out it was too late to turn back. This was a great mistake. If you have a chance to drive between Sante Fe, NM and Alamosa, CO take CO/NM 17 and US 84 from Chama. It’s a spectacular drive. Here are a few of the views.

There’s a steam engine train that runs from Antonito, CO and Chama, NM

I love to travel, and my favorite part is probably stumbling onto something you didn’t mean to. That’s part of the reason I don’t like making exact plans, I like to see what I can stumble upon.