The Adventures of Bandelier Dave

One of the things that a few of us wanted to do during our recent trip to New Mexico was spend a little time in the great outdoors. My brother Dave had never been to New Mexico before and we thought that Bandelier National Monument would be a great excursion.

So one day, while others partook of shopping and sightseeing in Santa Fe, my brother, his wife, The Beloved, and I made the hour drive over to Bandelier. The Monument sits in the Frijoles Canyon and is the site of a former Native American civilization that was active for centuries (between 1150 -1550). You can see the the ruins of former dwellings along the valley floor, hike along the river, and climb into kivas, and cliff dwellings.

Long House

Long House

It was a clear, hot day and we traded a long shuttle bus ride into the park for a shorter one by parking in a campground not too far from the exit (we had been confused by shuttle bus, not having needed it during a previous trip here, but it was later explained that a terrible flash flood the previous year had wiped out most of the parking area near the visitors center).

We toured the visitor center, and walked the large circular Tyuonyi ruin and along the cliff dwellings, where the stone edifices helped bake us in the midday heat. We were stopped in our trip to the multi-level Alcove House cliff dwelling because of the frolicking of a mama bear and her cubs. And by frolicking, I mean the cubs were climbing in a tree and mama was giving us squinty bear-eyes of warning.

I've Got An Idea!

I’ve Got An Idea!

Bandelier Dave then had the idea of eschewing the shuttle and climbing the Frey Trail up and out of the canyon, because as it turns out The Frey Trail terminates right at the campground where we parked. Also, he reasoned that it was something The Beloved and I hadn’t done before and it would be a new adventure for all of us.


Looks a bit like a grave marker, eh?

An adventure of hiking several miles including a very steep initial climb out of the canyon. In the hot, summer sun. In the middle of the day. With little water. At nearly 7000-ft elevation.

Adventure time!

DSC00405So, we climbed swtichback after switchback up out of the canyon, imagining that we were ancient Puebloans, who had used the same trail. Of course, the ancient Puebloans probably knew better than to do so during a hot, cloudless summer afternoon, probably carried water, and probably were in better cardiovascular health. Probably.

DSC00433Up we went.

DSC00415And up.

DSC00439And up.

DSC00437And — well you get the idea

DSC00449And finally we reached the canyon rim and realized we only had a little more than three miles to go!


It probably doesn’t come across as hot as it felt.


Sweet Shade

Sweet Shade

Needless to say, we were all VERY happy to reach the campground, the end of our adventure, and all the water we’d, of course, left in the car.


18 thoughts on “The Adventures of Bandelier Dave

  1. I wish you could’ve heard my gasp at ‘we’d left in the car.’ We had a less alttitudinous trek through the Sedona desert without water. I’m glad you are stalwart and can share this post!

    • MT — we’d planned of course, on just touring the sites and getting back on the bus. Of course, we could have gotten on the bus, gone to the car, and walked DOWN, but what’s the adventure in that??! :)

  2. As I say to people at work, “Way to put that college education to work for you.” Of course, I took a three-mile trek to the nearest house one time due to car troubles and my cell phone lying on my desk at home …

    I’m pretty sure that after seeing Mrs. Bear and the kids I’d have been wary of taking any trails.

    • I’m pretty sure wisdom isn’t acquired in a classroom. :)

      In addition to the bears, we did see a snake, but it wasn’t a rattler. Who knew the outside world was so dangerous!

  3. Steve! I would have turned around as soon as I realized we didn’t have water! You and the Beloved are a lot tougher than I am. I’m prone to heatstroke and have had one too many incidents where I passed out while hiking in desert-like conditions.

    Gorgeous pictures, though. Are the stone ‘towers’ in the sixth photo from the top natural, or carved by human hands?

    • HG — we knew the trail wasn’t THAT long, but man that was a climb.

      Those towers are just eroded. There are several “stacks” of them all over the canyon walls. Really beautiful. The whole place is gorgeous. Though I will admit, I prefer it in the autumn over the summer… :)

  4. Well I bet you were consoled by the fact that you’d be greeted by a nice toasty hot car. That’s brutal. But it looks like a simply beautiful hike, I’ve never seen ruins like that before. I think New Mexico would be my top choice if visiting out west. It seems unique even among the sights in that region.

    • Emmy — Northern New Mexico is truly wonderful — and really one of my favorite places. It has an hard-to-beat combination of natural beauty and multi-cultural significance (Pueblo, Spanish, Anglo-American).

  5. Did you lick the tears of joy off each other’s faces as you approached the campground?

    I don’t know why (it’s not helpful in any way) but when I’m hiking in sweltering conditions, I often start thinking about really hot, sweaty movies, much to the chagrin of those hiking with me because, as always, I feel obligated to share my thoughts. ;)

    “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, “Cool Hand Luke” and “The Ten Commandments” are probably my top three. Although, being in New Mexico probably would have conjured thoughts of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” or “Once Upon a Time in the Old West”.

    BTW, the Atomic City Transit sign is classic. I bet they get lifted all the time, perfect addition to any dorm room or man cave. Of course, that would be wrong, very wrong. (Just trying to satisfy the legal department. :) )

    • Hi Sandy Sue — I’m afraid I’ve lost a lot of the unscheduled time that I used to have and this blog and my piano playing have suffered for it.

      I have recently been thinking of a reboot. I miss the writing and interaction too much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s