It’s fun to say it like that, isn’t it? A rallying cry, or something a pirate would yell. Yarr! Bandelier!

Alas, I didn’t see any pirates – or even any colorful shoulder parrots – at Bandelier National Monument, NM, though I did see plenty of my favorites: red rock and ruins.

We got there late in the day, but still had time to get to the visitor’s center, learn about the place, then go for a hike. (Note: Like most National Parks, Bandelier doesn’t allow dogs on trail, and they have a mandatory shuttle service from town, but only until 3 p.m.)

I had talked to a man in town earlier that day about how to get into the park, and he said something to the effect of go past the gate, hang a right, park in the lot, and then you’ll see the trailhead.

Which I did.

That was all supposed to take me to the visitor center at the base of the ruins, which rise into the cliffs. You can climb ladders into tiny caves and pretend to be a woman living a thousand years ago, hauling water and fending off hostile animals and humans, instead of a woman living now whose idea of roughing it is sleeping in a clean, locked Scamp and not washing her hair for a few days.

But back to the directions, which turned about to not be quite as clear as this directionally-challenged woman needed. I got past the gate, took the right, found the lot, and since it was getting late, marched to the closest trailhead. Which took me to this view:


See that circle in the clearing, way below? That’s where I was supposed to be.

So okay, wrong way. Now I was getting anxious because I’d just hiked a mile and the visitor’s center was closing at 4:30, which was rapidly approaching. So I marched my way back down the trail and was frantically looking around for another trailhead, when a shuttle bus pulled up and the driver confirmed that, yep, I was in the wrong place.

Turns out the gate the man had referred to earlier wasn’t the entrance gate, it was the gate I’d seen after it that said “Road Closed.” I mentioned this to the shuttle driver and he said, “Yeah, you just go around it.”

Which I did and was rewarded with three minutes with the friendly, knowledgeable park rangers at the visitor’s center, as well as this:


The first of many ladders at Bandelier.


Setting sunlight.


The clouds look much more threatening in black and white.


The first of the last set of ladders up to Alcove House.


The view from the top.

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  1. Deborah Dash September 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Typical government work. Put up a “road closed” sign and then assume that a tourist would know that she was supposed to “just go around it.” O.o

    • deonne September 11, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

      Deborah – Right, graduate school doesn’t even help with misleading road signs!

  2. Susan Carpenter Sims September 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    I just have to say that black and white photo is so good. Like, Ansel Adams good. And the one underneath it is pretty awesome too.

    I’m planning on going to Bandelier soon myself; never been there. Your post definitely motivates me to get moving on that plan.
    Susan Carpenter Sims recently posted…The Year of Curing SadnessMy Profile

    • deonne September 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

      Thanks for the very kind words, Susan! Those two are my favorites as well. You’ll love Bandelier – you can practically feel the history seeping up through your shoes.

  3. Manisha September 12, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    I hadn’t heard of this park and it seems so wonderful. Your photos are gorgeous and totally enticing. I want to climb those ladders!
    Manisha recently posted…Fair State Brewing Cooperative – Drink Like You Own the PlaceMy Profile

    • deonne September 12, 2014 at 9:09 am #

      Manisha – Thanks for the kind words, and yes, go to Bandelier and climb!

  4. Sherry in MT September 17, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    That looks like a super fun place to explore. I’m anxious now to get back down to NM and see more.

    • deonne September 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      Sherry – So many ladders, so little time, ha.

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