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Cliff Dwellings at Bandelier National Forest

12 Oct Posted by in United States | Comments
Cliff Dwellings at Bandelier National Forest

If you want to venture away from your own, most likely modern, dwelling place to see some ancient dwellings, plan a trip to New Mexico to visit abodes set in cliffs at Bandelier National Forest. Some of the best features of New Mexico as a destination include the history, the hiking, the camping and the weather. Bandelier is no exception as it spreads out over thousands of acres and rises up in the sky to altitudes over 10,000 feet. Santa Fe and Los Alamos are both close by, and Albuquerque is only a couple hours away. But, when you are in the midst of this beautiful wilderness, it is easy to see why so many considered it home as far back the 10th century. And, historians are pretty sure that there were humans there thousands of years before that.

Unique housing by the Pueblo people

The Valles Caldera volcano erupted over a million years ago near there, and the lava that overflowed left a variety of different materials. Pueblo people carved caves in the softer substances to create shelter. These holes were often very high off the ground to offer more protection. You can still see the steps in the cliffs where they carefully accessed their multi-storied “apartments.” Now, there are ladders making it possible to check out these wonderful dwellings. Some are quite large and include a kiva used for religious purposes. Petroglyphs and rock paintings are also common to witness.

Go exploring – Hike and camp in Bandelier

Bandelier National Forest

Bandelier National Forest
Image Credits:Graeme Churchard

For the dedicated outdoor adventurer this is a wonderland. There is an abundance of hiking, camping and exploring. A lot of the area is pretty primitive, but that makes the adventure even better. Lots of birds, deer, rattlesnakes, bats and even horny toads inhabit the area. There are also easy trails and plenty to do for those wanted to stick closer in. Most of the park’s main structures were built in the 1930’s and are know as Bandelier CCC Historic District; they make the visit more unique as well.

Alamos – a contrasting scene

Not too far from what “seems like miles from anywhere” you will find Los Alamos. Since you are just around the corner, make sure you add this to your agenda. I am sure a lot of the same residents back in the 10th century frequented this region too, but the scientific history of this town should not be missed. In the early 1940’s Los Alamos was the background setting for the creation of the atom bomb. It was a very secure location for the government. No matter what a person holds as a personal belief towards this, the history here is more than intriguing. The contrast between that and the peaceful life the Pueblo people strove for at Bandelier is certainly striking.

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