Scenic USA - New Mexico

Bandelier National Monument

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Cliff Dwellings - Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Photo by Alexa Goldman
Additonal inset photos by Sally King, courtesy NPS

     Located in north-central New Mexico, Bandelier National Monument is surrounded Bandelier Park Entrance Sign by Sally King, NPS by a rugged land formed by ancient volcanism. Here on the southern end of the Pajarito Plateau the mountainous region once supported a relatively large population of Ancestral Pueblo Natives. Varying in elevation from nearly one to two miles, today's parkland harbors a wide variety of wildlife, plants and trees.
     Before the existence of a park, groups of archaeologists, cattleman, Native Americans, businessmen and homesteaders all Lower Frijoles Falls - Bandelier National Monument, photo by Sally King, NPS fought to claim the land. This large group of privateers worked together and rallied against every park initiative. During the early 1900s a Sante Fe newspaper also mounted a drive to keep the land out of Federal control. Meanwhile, pot hunting, vandalism and looting continued to destroy many of the Bandelier archeological sites. Finally established in 1916, the national monument was named after anthropologist Adolph Bandelier.
     Moving into the area about 1150, these Ancestral Pueblo people carved their homes into the soft volcanic tuff. Moving out of the canyon around 1550, oral traditions from the people of today's Cochiti Pueblo tell us about their ancestors and where they went. Continuing its cultural science research since the initial Tyuonyi Village Ruins - Photo by Sally King, NPSwritings of Adolph Bandelier, a century of exploration focuses on several thousand dwellings found in and around Frijoles Canyon. Hoping to understand and predict the responses of mountain ecosystems to climate variability, now natural science research seeks to understand the complexities of these habitats and impacts of climate change.
     Today, the monument and surrounding wilderness area includes over 32,000 acres. Many of the park's access roads and building were constructed by the Depression Era's CCC. These park improvements were built from local materials and proclaimed a National Historic Treasure in 1987.

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