If you are needing a quick break from the art scene of Sante Fe, Bandelier National Monument is a great day trip worth a visit. It is an easy hour drive from Sante Fe and 30 minutes from the quaint town of Los Alamos. If you are traveling during the summer months, you will want to venture out to Bandelier first to beat the heat.
Bandelier National Monument
This area dates back over 10,000 years and has fantastic ruins from the Ancestral Pueblo people. You can see everything by taking the loop from the Visitors Center. Plan on hiking 1 to 2 hours, depending on your level. The one-hour hike will allow you to see the cliff dwellings and Big Kiva (as seen in the photo below). The two-hour hike will take you all the way out to Alcove House but requires you to climb some ladders. I did not climb the ladders because, well, I just don’t climb big ladders. My family did climb them however and thought it was really neat. Whichever hike you choose, bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen. For those of you who love camping, they have one campground near the park.
On the Main Loop Trail, you will see the ground level housing and Big Kiva, continuing along the mountainside will be two sets of cliff dwellings. While walking along, watch your step along the pathways as you will be walking along preserved pathways. If you look closely, you will also be able to see petroglyphs. There is one area, which is behind protection, that you can view original decoration painted on the wall of the housing.
Tips for Visiting Bandelier National Monument and Los Alamos. #daytrip Click To Tweet
On your way back to the Visitors Center, you will walk along the river and give thanks to the trees if you’re avoiding the heat. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife. I did not even see the deer until my son pointed them out to me.
Satisfying your Hunger
After hiking the morning away, you surely will be ready for some grub. We headed back to the town of Los Alamos, which is about a 30-minute drive. We kind of had a thing going for brewpubs so we chose to eat at Parjarito Brewpub and Grill. They have a great menu assortment and I ultimately decided to go more on the healthy side with tortilla soup and caesar salad, and a cold beer. OK, maybe that wasn’t so healthy. Everything was excellent and I highly recommend it.
The Town of Los Alamos
After filling our bellies, we ventured out to see the town of Los Alamos. This is the birthplace of the first atomic bomb. We visited the Bradbury Science Museum to learn all about the bomb and the Manhattan Project. Testing for these bombs was done in the town of Alamogordo. The museum is free so even if you are not a huge science nerd, it is worth spending at least a half an hour checking out the displays. They have a great interactive area in the back for kids to keep them entertained if they are not able to quite grasp the concept of nuclear physics. And by kids, I meant me.
We were lucky enough to enjoy a festival they had going on in town. It was spread out all across the downtown area and made for a nice afternoon. I love flower lined streets, don’t you? If you choose to have a picnic instead of eating out, Ashley Pond on Central Ave is a beautiful place to relax in a park like setting.
I loved visiting Bandelier and Los Alamos. Of course, I earned another patch for my blanket. Are you visiting New Mexico anytime soon? Is Bandelier National Monument on your bucket list?
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