Bandelier National Monument

On Tuesday we drove to Bandelier National Monument. Just the trip there was jaw-dropping.

Only cars with handicap tags are allowed in Bandelier National Monument. All other visitors must catch a shuttle bus from White Rock Visitor Center to the Visitor Center right at Bandelier Monument. Bandelier became a national monument on February 11, 1916 to preserve ancestral pueblo archaeological sites. It was named for Adolph Bandelier, an anthropologist who researched the cultures of this area. The CCC built supporting facilities for the Monument in the late 1930’s including a restaurant and lodging that was run by the Fred Harvey Company.

A 1.25 mile trail leads to 21 points of interest. People have been living in the Frijoles Canyon for more than 10,000 years. Most of that time the people migrated in and out of the area but over time people became more sedentary and began farming, building homes, first underground and then above-ground stone dwellings.

Above: The pueblo village of Tyuonyi – the lower right picture is a model of the pueblo on display in the visitor’s center. Compare the model to the photo to the left of it which is of the ruin as it is now. The village contained 400 rooms and housed about 100 people. The circular, underground structures are kivas (3). They are the center of activity for the community. They were probably used for religious ceremonies and were restricted to men and boys. By 1200 the Ancestral Pueblo people had began to settle down and practice agriculture planting corn, beans and squash (top left).

Although the rock face looks like sandstone from afar it is all tuff, compacted volcanic ash. Tuff is easily eroded by wind and rain. Ancestral Pueblo people used tools to enlarge some of the natural openings in the cliff face to create rooms that stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The 4th picture down on the right shows an Ancestral Pueblo family home that was reconstructed in 1920. Modern research has shown that the entry was through the roof not a doorway in the front. Life expectancy for Ancestral Pueblo people was 35 years. The average woman stood five feet tall and the average man, five foot six inches. By 1440 the population grew to 550 people.

Above: Long House, people built multi-storied dwellings along the cliff base. The line of holes on the canyon walls were places where wooden beams were stuck inside the rock to create a second story floor and a ceiling for a second story.

Above: Petroglyphs carved on the face of the cliff.