Bandelier National Monument and the Road to Albuquerque

Day 24: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Start: Taos, NM
End: Albuquerque, NM
Miles Driven Today: 183
Total Miles: 3,539

We left Taos today after a great few days. Taos itself has a bit of small town charm, but we really loved its proximity to some beautiful country.

Today's open road

Today’s open road on the way to Bandelier National Monument. Stunning vistas and sky!

ET Phone Home!

ET Phone Home! Dishes at Los Alamos.

We had originally planned to visit Bandelier National Monument yesterday, but since it was about half-way to Albuquerque, we decided instead to visit on our way. It was a smart choice! Luckily, the weather (and a shady parking lot) allowed us to keep the pups in the car while we were hiking the main trail at Bandelier; otherwise, we would have had to take turns walking the trail and, as Tom put it, they would have had to send a search party for me after I froze in terror on the way down. Hey, I can’t even climb a ladder without getting dizzy.

We snaked through some pretty country before arriving at Bandelier. We were also fortunate to get here before Memorial Day Weekend. Tomorrow, they stop allowing people to park on the property; instead, visitors must park at the closest town (White Rock) and shuttle into the park. Of course, dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle. Our timing couldn’t be better!

Arriving at Bandelier National Monument

Arriving at Bandelier National Monument

Before we arrived at the Visitor’s Center, we stopped at a scenic overlook. It was deserted. But in mere minutes, there was a sudden horde of people at the edge of the bluff! We’re such leaders!

Scenic overlook at Bandelier

Scenic overlook at Bandelier. (CLICK FOR LARGER PIC) When we pulled up, this vista was deserted. In less than five minutes, about 15 people followed us in. Lemmings!

The trail started with a Kiva and the ruins of the Tyuonyi pueblo. The canyon itself is Frijoles Canyon, and were populated with Ancestral Pueblo people (once identified as Anasazi, which is now an outdated term).

Frijoles Canyon

Frijoles Canyon

View of the pueblo ruins

View of the pueblo ruins

The trail then wound up to the cave dwellings. The Ancient Pueblo people were on average 5′ to 5’6″…still large for the size of these caves. The people also built dwellings on the outside of the caves…often several stories tall. This was a fascinating place and well worth the visit! On the way up, the rock formations were fascinating and really beautiful.

Beauty in the rocks

Beauty in the rocks

Oooh! Scary caves!

Oooh! Scary caves!

We also loved the view from the caves down on the valley. However, I was getting a bit dizzy. I have no idea how these people scaled these walls, dug these caves and made a home in the side of a canyon!

View from Frijoles Canyon

Panoramic view from Frijoles Canyon cliffs. (CLICK FOR LARGER PIC)

Tom climbed up a wooden ladder to look into the cavate (official for cave room). He wanted to take a picture inside. This is the result.

Technical difficulties

Tom had, um, ‘technical difficulties’ when taking a picture of the cave rooms. Hahahahaha!

After we left Bandelier, we drove back through Santa Fe and onto the Turquoise Trail. Going through Santa Fe’s business district was a reminder of how lucky we’ve been with our open roads and lack of traffic. It was a bit of a rude awakening, and we were glad to hit the Turquoise Trail. We stopped briefly in Madrid, but we found parking to be sparse, and it was then too hot to leave the pups in the car.

We motored on to Albuquerque and arrived at our hotel. We’re now chillaxin’ in the room. The pups are totally exhausted from their hard day of riding in the car. Strangely enough, the wind started whipping us around when we got here, including pelting us with sand and rock. Welcome to Albuquerque!

Jasmine and Juliet

Jasmine and Juliet love the Drury. The paparazzi…not so much.

Jasmine and Juliet

Oh, riding in the car is SO exhausting!

Tomorrow, we’re going to explore Albuquerque and then have dinner at the High Finance restaurant at the top of Sandia Peak. We’re going to dine and then watch the sunset. Even in all the beautiful country that we’ve toured, we haven’t spent a lot of time out at night. This should be a lovely view. Saturday, we plan on going to Acoma, and Sunday we plan on visiting a few more sights as well as checking out the Art & Wine festival in town. It should be a nice weekend!

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