Bandelier National Monument: Things to See

The Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico protects over 33,000 acres of Ancestral Puebloans. Most of the structures date back to 1150AD and 1600AD.

Bandelier National Monument Entry Sign

The Bandelier National Monument entrance fee is $25 for a 7-day auto pass. Of course you can also use the America the Beautiful park pass to enter. For the more pricing information check out the National Park site.

Bandelier National Monument hours while the visitor center is open from 9am to 5pm all park trails are open from dawn to dusk. Check the National Park service site for full list of hours and backcountry access permit information.

Located in Northwest New Mexico you’ll find the Bandelier near the Valles Caldera preserve and about 50 minute drive from Santa Fe.


Cliff Dwellings

One of the main points of interest in the Bandelier National Monument are the cliff dwellings near the visitor center. These cliff dwellings are a short 0.3 mile walk on a paved path from the visitor center parking lot. You’ll also notice a few dwellings have ladders for you to climb into them. just remember that leaving the trail isn’t allowed in most areas so follow posted signs and rules.

Alcove House

Reconstructed kiva at Alcove House

To get to the Alcove House you’ll have to take a 2.6 mile out and back called the Alcove House trail. The same trail takes you to the cliff dwellings so I recommend stopping at both when you visit.

Just keep in mind you’ll have to climb a few ladders to get to the Alcove House. While climbing up you’ll also have to get out of the way of people heading down and it’s a bit tight. I could see this being hectic on a busy day. I also recommend bringing a bottle of water if you plan on walking to the Alcove House.

Bandelier National Monument Pictures

Here are more photos of Bandelier National Monument including trails, dwellings and overlooks.

Recommended Photography Gear: On my visit I brought a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. If I had to return again I would probably bring a zoom lens like a 24-70mm. Additionally on a sunny day you’ll want to bring an ND filter for your lens.


Frequently Asked Questions about Bandelier National Monument

What is Bandelier National Monument?

Bandelier National Monument is a protected area located in northern New Mexico, United States. It preserves the unique cultural and natural heritage of the Puebloan people who lived in the region thousands of years ago.

How do I get to Bandelier National Monument?

To reach Bandelier National Monument, you can drive to the visitor center, which is located in Frijoles Canyon, approximately 50 miles northwest of Santa Fe. The address is 15 Entrance Road, Los Alamos, NM 87544.

What are the park’s operating hours?

Bandelier National Monument is open year-round, but the hours vary depending on the season. The visitor center and main archeological sites are generally open from 9 am to 5 pm. I recommend checking the official website or contact the park for the most up-to-date information regarding operating hours.

Are there any entrance fees?

Yes, there is an entrance fee to visit Bandelier National Monument. As of 2023, the fee is $25 per vehicle or $15 per person on foot or bicycle. However, certain passes, such as the America the Beautiful Pass, can be used for free entry.

Can I bring my pet to the monument?

Pets are generally not allowed on hiking trails, in archeological sites, or in buildings within Bandelier National Monument. However, they are permitted in designated areas, such as campgrounds and the Tsankawi section of the park.

Are there camping facilities available in the park?

Yes, there are camping facilities available at Bandelier National Monument. Juniper Campground offers tent and RV camping options, with limited amenities such as restrooms and picnic tables. However, there are no utility hookups or showers. Reservations are not accepted, and campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Are there any guided tours available?

Yes, guided tours are available in Bandelier National Monument. During the summer months, the park offers ranger-guided hikes and interpretive programs, providing visitors with insightful information about the cultural and natural history of the area.

What should I bring with me to Bandelier National Monument?

When visiting Bandelier National Monument, it’s essential to bring water, sunscreen, appropriate clothing, and sturdy walking shoes. Additionally, carrying snacks, insect repellent, and a hat is advisable. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the scenic beauty and fascinating ruins!

Can I climb on the ancient ruins?

No, climbing on the ancient ruins is strictly prohibited in Bandelier National Monument. These archaeological sites are fragile and irreplaceable, and climbing can cause irreparable damage. Please respect the historical importance of the ruins and admire them from a distance.

Are there any restrictions on photography?

Photography is generally allowed in Bandelier National Monument for personal use. However, commercial and professional photography requires a permit. Drones are not permitted in the park without proper authorization. It’s always a good idea to check with park staff regarding any specific photography restrictions or guidelines.

Can I collect souvenirs or artifacts from the park?

No, collecting souvenirs or artifacts from Bandelier National Monument is strictly prohibited. It is illegal to remove or disturb any natural or cultural objects within the park. It’s important to leave everything as you found it, preserving the historical integrity and natural beauty of the area for future generations to enjoy.


I hope you enjoyed my visit to Bandelier National Monument! If you’re planning a trip to the Bandelier I highly recommend going to the Alcove House and dwellings. If you plan on doing both and stopping at a couple of overlooks on the drive I’d recommend planning 2-3 hours for the visit.


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