Located near Los Alamos, NM, Bandilier is a special place full of adventure, high canyons, ancient Indian dwellings and breathtaking vistas. We stayed at Juniper campgrounds located on the rim of a deep canyon just up from the visitors center. The campsites have no electric however the restrooms are clean and the sites are surrounded by tall trees providing some shade depending on the site.
|Our campsite at Juniper campground
By the parks visitor center is a beautiful trail that meanders through the ancient Indian ruins, Kiva’s and cliff dwellings. Being familiar with Mesa Verde National Park we found that the history here to be quite compelling. The loop trail passes through the ruins of the ancient villages that populated the valley up to the cliffs of the canyon where many of the tribes build homes to protect their families from the elements.
|Visitors Center at Bandilier National Monument
|Giant Keva built by the ancient Indian tribes that made this area home centuries ago
|Trail leading to the cliff dwelling homes
|Cliff dwellings at Bandilier
Just west on scenic highway 4 is the beautiful Valles Caldera National Preserve. This area is an extinct super volcano that erupted millions of years age and caved in on itself to from a vast valley filled with various forms of wild life similar to Yellowstone. We spotted elk, coyotes, and prairie dogs on our drive up to the visitor’s center. The prairie dogs had just had their pups making for an interesting experience watching them play as the mothers keep watch for predators from the rims of their nesting sites.
|Coyote on the Caldera
The park service provided visitors with an interpretive ride in an electric van to the old ranch houses that were used here to raise cattle years ago. Many of the building were used by Hollywood film makers to make western movies over the years. We found Valles Caldera to be a marvelous and historic place not only by its geology but also by its abundant forms of wildlife.
|View from the rancher cabins looking north across the caldera
|Ranch Foreman's cabin in the process of being restored by the park service
While visiting Bandilier we did take an afternoon to visit Los Alamos, site of the national lab that made the atom bombs that help end World War II. The museums and historic buildings of Los Alamos provided a great experience for us to learn the history of the atomic age and continuing research that is a big part of our countries defense system and energy grid.
|Directors of the National Lab at its very begining
|Lodge that was used to house the scientist at the beginning of the labs operation
|Replica of Fat boy used during WW II