2015 Camping trip to Bandalier Nat'l Monument
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Bandalier National Monument is located about 2 hours north of Albuquerque, just west of the city of Los Alamos. It is located in Frijoles Canyon and is the place the Anasazi lived for hundreds of years in cave dwellings they adapted and enhanced. Much of the dwellings remain and visitors are able to actually climb inside many of them. Ladders lean up against the canyon walls, much like the Anasazi used. These dwellings were only part of the dwellings by these people. Stone and mud blocks were used to build off the caves to form larger rooms and several levels of buildings all through the canyon.
The campground at Bandalier is first come-first serve and we arrived to find it was almost full. We found a camp spot that fit our camper length, set up, paid at the pay station.
This year we had traded in our popup camper for a new camping trailer which has a full bedroom, bath, and kitchen/living room combo. This was our second time out with it.
We took site #8, which was plenty long for our 25' camper, plus had some shrubs all around. It was extremely hot outside, so we didn't do much that day except cook dinner and relax.
In the morning we had planned to hike the Frey Trail which runs from the campground down the cliffs to the museum and cliff dwellings. Frey Trail is a little over 2 miles but the last part of it is very steep, rocky, and exposed. We were anxious to check it out! Since it had been so hot, we decided to do the hike early in the day to beat the heat. It was a good decision. The trail first enters a huge field of wild flowers which extends over a mile, with wonderful views in every direction. It then starts the descent to the canyon floor. Wow, amazing. We arrived in the center of the ruins main trail and the park was now open with some visitors already walking around.
After we toured the ruins area, we went to the museum and snack bar/gift shop. There we had a refreshment and then caught the bus back up to the campground. As we waited for the bus, several Abert squirrels scampered around in the forest near us. We also saw many amazing birds but were unable to get any photos of the birds. During summer months, due to limited parking spaces inside the park, a shuttle bus runs from the nearby town and stops at the campground along the way before exiting the park. We could have hiked back up the Frey Trail, but it was already very hot outside and we wanted to think about our plans for the rest of the day.
Students from a university out-of-state were being led through the park by a Ranger.
Because of the construction going on in the park, due to the floods a few years ago after the huge forest fire, we were not able to get to many of the other hiking trails. That, in combination to the oppressive heat, we decided to pack up the camper and head back home to Albuquerque.
Hopefully in 2016, the construction will be done and the hiking trails open again throughout the canyon. We will be back!