bandelier national monument

warning. this post contains a billion (or 46) photos. and i exercised great restraint while choosing. i promise.

on saturday morning, we departed from the walmart albuquerque and headed to a campground in santa fe. my mom had flown out the day before and was staying with her friend dash from horseshoe lake, batavia, ny. we met up with them for some santa fe themed hangouts for the day. on sunday morning, we crammed my mom into the car for a trip to bandelier national monument.

derek and isaac selfie on the way in.

we picked up the kids junior ranger booklets and let them get to work while everyone enjoyed a bit of a snack before hitting the trails (paved path). each kid had their own grade level booklet. hazel was able to do the pre-k to 1st grade with a bit of assistance. anna did the 2nd and 3rd, so as to not be insulted by having to do the same book as hazel. and isaac had 4th – 6th.

the first bit of the trail leaves from the visitor center and winds through some grassland at the bottom of the canyon. it has numbered markers and you can get a little trail map/guide for $1 and follow along and read about the history of the area and what each marker represents. before you head into the cave dwellings, you pass through the ruins of old pueblos.

the kids were mostly excited to climb into old caves, so when we got to the first one, everyone filed in.

ike, arriving.

new gramma and hazel, on their way.

me and the lidkids in a cave.

new gramma and crazelnut, hanging out in a cave.

derek took this picture of the pueblo ruins from up high. pretty sweet.

aside from the cave dwellings and ruins, there were some pretty interesting rock formations and beautiful scenery.

theannababy, poking her head out a cave window.

some of my people.

hazel said “take my photo!”

derek’s view of hazel posing for a photoshoot from inside the cave.

climbing (or maybe descending) anna.

squeezing through a crevice. i went around.

as we climbed along the side of the canyon, the view behind us showed cool formations, the grassland below, and leftover bits of old pueblos built into the side of the rock wall.

more cave dwelling ladder climbs.

inside a big cave room.

the crazelnut was a speed hiker for the first half of the hike.

behind the kids is the long house. the ruins of the pueblos ran along the side of the cliff for, well, a long way. i say 100 yards. derek says more. the holes in the rock where the wooden supports (called vigas) were originally show how many stories there were in each section. they were up to four stories in some sections.

so. i guess this is a bit of original art. i didn’t read about it. but it seems strange to me that it’s set in the rock wall. but whatevs. ancestral pueblo art.

after we saw all the small cave dwellings, the trail went back down into the canyon, this time to the very bottom where a cold stream was calling to anna and hazel.

i made my mom pose.

the paved path turned and went back to the visitor center. we opted to take a stroll out to the 140 foot high “alcove house” cave dwelling a little further into the canyon. this part of the trail was in the woods and much more like a hike that the kid prefer. back to boulder climbing, as usual.

it was 1/2 mile to the bottom of four ladders that lead up to the alcove house. there is a series of steep ladders and narrow stairs leading up to the top. the second ladder is 50 feet and pretty intimidating. the first and third were not quite that long. and the last was pretty short. despite her protests, we decided not to let hazel go. she wasn’t great at coming down on the smaller ladders and i thought that might be stressful and dangerous. so derek stayed with her, while my mom and i took the big kids up.

first ike.

then anna.

when isaac spied the 50 foot ladder, he backed out and went back down with derek. it was pretty intimidating.

derek took these pics of us from the bottom of the canyon, heading up the 50 foot ladder. and you can see the big cave that we are headed for.

we took a breather on the landing before starting up the last big ladder.

i made my mom take anna protection duty on the way up so i could get a pic and video. by protection, i mean landing padding.

the views from the top were pretty awesome.

we explored the inside of the cave a bit. this old kiva still had old dried grains in it when it was excavated in the early 1900s.

anna. reading the kiva sign to us.

cave view further into the canyon.

new gramma and anna. cave conquerers.

anna and i explored some little closets and such.

pretty (and adventurous and brave) annababy.

we took in the view and explored to our hearts content and then made our way back down. that for sure was the scariest part. but we all survived and went to the creek to give derek some time to head up and check it out. a group foot soak was in order.

finally, derek arrived, safe and sound, and we made our way back to the visitor center. hazel fizzled out with about 3/4 of a mile left and gave derek a good workout for the final stretch.

the posse.

at the visitor center, the kids handed in their books to be checked. it’s interesting each time to see how thorough each ranger will be. some just flip through the book and assume it’s all good. some check each answer and make corrections. and some put the kids through the ringer with follow up questions. this ranger was a “put the kids through the ringer” sort. she read each book and talked to each kid individually. they passed with flying colors, i think.

meet your new bandelier national monument junior rangers.

the end.

1 Comment

  1. Brenda says:

    What an adventure. You guys are getting to be experts at boulders.

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