Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument

In A Nutshell


The Visitor Center does not meet standards but is accessible. The Visitor Center restrooms are not up to standard but are accessible for wheelchair users who can negotiate a 180-degree transfer. Restrooms in Loop B of Juniper Campground are accessible. The first quarter mile of Main Loop Trail accessible by wheelchair; other trails may be possible for wheelchair athletes. There are two wheelchairs available at the visitor center, that are loaned on a first-come basis.  The orientation slide show is captioned, and two tactile tables are available in the museum. Guides to the Main Loop Trail are available in large print, Braille, Spanish, French, Japanese, German, and Russian.


Cold, snowy days intermix with warm sunny days. Heavy pollen in the air from blooming junipers can mean watery eyes and runny noses for many people. The Main Loop Trail is the only trail where snow is removed. Snow and ice remains on most other trails and turns to muddy muck by mid-afternoon. The ladders at Alcove House may remain closed due to safety concerns if it has been a snowy winter. The Cross-country ski trails still have plenty of snow but on warm afternoons can become slushy. Abert's Squirrels remain active and may be seen feeding on the newly-running sap of Boxelder trees. By late month, the Sandhill Cranes can be heard as they pass overhead migrating back north. Visitation is slow but may begin to pick up by President's weekend. On occasion the parking lots have filled over this holiday. Collection of the entrance fee is done at the visitor center instead of the entrance station. Interpretive programs are only offered occasionally.

The ladders at Alcove House are currently open (02/18/08) but could close again if there is more snow. Skiing had been excellent at the Cross-country ski trails. Warmer daytime temperatures have made them slushy. The Falls Trail is in good shape above Lower Falls except for small icy patches in the morning and slush in the afternoon. The trail below Lower Falls was obliterated in some areas by another flashflood that occurred in January. The area near the Rio Grande is extremely muddy. Also near the Rio watch for a half dozen feral cows that have been occupying the area. Willows near the Rio should be blooming by President's Day weekend.  Abert's Squirrels are very active and have been seen eating Boxelder sap, a true sign that spring is coming.

Picnicking in Bandelier

Cottonwood Picnic Area
Cottonwood Picnic Area is located just across Frijoles Creek from the visitor center in Frijoles Canyon.  Situated next to the creek, the picnic area is nicely shaded.  Watch for wildlife and don't feed the beggar squirrels.  Each picnic spot boasts a picnic table or two, bear-proof trash bins are scattered in the area.  Fires and barbeque grills are not permitted.  There is a bathroom centrally located within the picnic grounds.  Each picnic spot has a parking space, however, this area is also used for overflow parking from the main parking lot.  

Juniper Campground

Juniper Campground is open to picnicking until 4:00 PM daily, after that a overnight camping fee will be charged.  This area is located on the mesatop within the Pinon-Juniper woodland and can be reached by turning right at the first road past the park entrance station.  Picnickers should pick a spot not already occupied by campers.  Fires are permitted in the grate provided.  Each campground spot has a picnic table, barbeque grill, and a parking space.

Giftshop and Snackbar

As a park concessionaire, Bandelier Trading Company offers visitors a chance to buy Native American Arts & Crafts from the Southwest, such as pottery, rugs, and jewelry. A small snack bar offers food and beverages. Outdoor picnic tables in the courtyard provide a nice environment for eating when the weather is good. The gift shop is located in a historic CCC building that was at one time the original lobby of the lodge.



Bandelier National Monument publishes a park newspaper twice per year, once in late spring and once in winter. Click the following link to see the most recent issues:

See the following link for News Releases, which contain information of current interest:

Educational Groups

All educational groups visiting Bandelier must make a group reservation at least 2 weeks in advance. To obtain an application click here:

Completed applications, and supporting documentation, should be sent to:

Group Reservations
Bandelier National Monument
15 Entrance Rd
Los Alamos, NM 87544
Fax (505)672-9607
(505)672-3861 x534

Fee Waiver Guidelines

Bona fide educational and/or scientific institutions studying Bandelier’s specific natural or cultural resources as part of a for-credit curriculum may qualify for a waiver of entry fees. See links at:

Entrance Fees
The entrance fee for non-commercial organized groups is $6.00 per person for all individuals 16 years of age and older. The Bandelier Annual, Interagency Annual, National Park, Golden Eagle, Golden Age, Senior, and Access Passes allow the card holder, and up to three adults, free admission.




Early in September afternoon thunderstorms may still occur regularly.  Later in September cloudy skies give way to clear blue skies accented by puffy white clouds.  Daytime temperatures continue to be warm or even hot.  Nighttime temperatures show a marked decline.  Summer birds start heading south for the winter, others arrive from summer locations to the north.  Labor Day weekend is the official end to the summer season.  Evening programs and Nightwalks are offered each week during the summer season. By month's end Virginia Creeper turns red and heralds the start of fall color.  Visitation remains high, especially on weekends.

Suggested Reading


To order any of the following books, contact David at [email protected]

Exploring Bandelier National Monument (Children's Edition): 15 pages $3.95 Readers are presented with the facts of the daily life of the Ancestral Pueblo People who lived at Bandelier National Monument. The book is features full-color illustrations as well as a convenient question-and-answer format.

The Delight Makers: 490 pages $16.00 First published in 1890 by Adolf Bandelier, this novel offers a unique look at Ancestral Pueblo life as it might have been centuries ago. Grounded in Bandelier's deep personal knowledge of the region and its native inhabitants, this book is a classic study of Pueblo life and culture.

Bandelier Backcountry Map: $9.95 Trails Illustrated topographic map. This map is essential for hiking and backpacking in the backcountry of Bandelier. The map itself is waterproof and tear proof and includes over 70 miles of trails, camping zones, and distances between major points.

Main Loop Trail Guide: $1.00 An informative guide to the archaeological sites located on the Main Loop Trail within Frijoles Canyon. Also includes descriptions of the cultural progression of the Ancestral Pueblo People.

Falls Trail Guide: $1.50 An explanatory guide to the geology of the falls trail, as well as the Pajarito Plateau. The guide also contains a section on the flora of lower Frijoles Canyon.

Operating Hours & Seasons

Visitor Center Operating Hours

Summer: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  (Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (May 24, 2008) through the Monday of Labor Day weekend (September 1, 2008))

Winter: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (When mountain Standard time is observed; November 4, 2007 - March 8, 2008)

Spring/Fall: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (March 9, 2008 - May 23, 2008 and September 2, 2008 - November 2, 2008)

Park and Visitor Center are open daily except:
Closed December 25 and January 1.


Park Hours

Frijoles Canyon and Tsankawi are open to recreation from 7 AM - 7 PM. Other day use areas (Cerro Grande, Burnt Mesa, Alamo Boundary, etc) are open from dawn to dusk. Backpacking permits must be obtained for any overnight stays in the park's backcountry.


August weather is marked by beautiful sunny mornings and frequent afternoon thunderstorms. These storms are isolated in nature and may drop large volumes of rain in some areas. They are frequently accompanied by dangerous lightning. The likelihood of afternoon thunderstorms should be taken into account when planning daily activities. Young animals are often mature enough to join parents in feeding activities and may be seen in the park. These include mule deer fawns and many fledgling birds. Evening programs are given every Friday and Saturday night at Juniper Campground. Nightwalks are offered one night each week. Park visitation may be heavy and a wait for parking could be required.


Days are mostly sunny and nice while nights are still cold. Snow is not unlikely but the storms are usually brief and the snow wet.  Trails at lower elevations are mostly clear of snow but ice lingers in protected areas. Mud is common on some trails.  This is a good time for longer hikes in the lower elevations of the park.  Wildflowers and butterflies become more common along the trails.  Year-round birds begin to search for nesting sites.  High elevations maintain a good volume of snow but conditions become less favorable for winter activities.  Visitation increases with numerous school groups and bus tours arriving in the park.

April 2008
April started out very pleasant but quite windy. On April 9 - 11th a cold front dropped temperatures and some snow on the area. Temperatures rebounded quickly and the snow didn't last long. Snow is completely gone from the lower elevations and only a minimal amount is left at the highest elevations in the park. Butterflies are plentiful especially Painted Ladies that are migrating through in large numbers. Some of the first wildflowers of the season are blooming and many more are likely to make their appearance soon. Visitation has been somewhat busy. Short traffic delays may occur on the road coming into Frijoles Canyon as crews work to replace the park's old sewage lift station. The trail beyond Alcove House to Upper Crossing reopened on April 13th after being closed since late last summer. Santa Fe Raptor Center had live birds behind the visitor center on Sunday, April 20th from 11 AM to 3 PM.

Use of Saddle and Pack Stock

Saddle and pack stock are permitted on some Bandelier trails (click on link at bottom of page for map showing trails that allow stock). A free permit is required and may be obtained at the visitor center in person during operating hours (except the last 20 minutes of the day). Stock are allowed for day-use only, no overnight stays. Pets are NOT allowed to accompany stock. Maximum stock group is six animals. No more than two groups with stock animals will be allowed in the park at one time. No grazing is permitted within the monument. All trash must be packed out.

At this time there are no commercial operators with permits to bring stock into the park. All stock use will be people with their personal stock animals.



Pets are NOT permitted on any park trails. They are allowed in the picnic area, campground, and parking lots. All pets must be under physical restraint while in the park. Remember, pets may not be left unattended except in a vehicle. Please be sure animals are provided adequate ventilation. Pets should never be left in a closed vehicle during hot weather.

There are areas on Department of Energy land near the park that do allow dogs.  These areas are located between the town of White Rock and the park, so are along the way if you are coming from Santa Fe, Espanola, Taos, etc.


The weather at Bandelier is quite variable from season to season and year to year.


Spring is probably the most unpredictable season of the year. A day with clear blue skies and daytime temperatures in the 70's can be followed by a snow storm with wet heavy snow and daytime temperatures in the 40's. Even so, spring is a beautiful time to visit as it marks the start of the wildflower season and the return of many migratory species of birds.


Summers start out warm and dry with June usually being the hottest month of the year. Days in July, August and September often end with thunderstorms that can drop heavy localized rain and are often accompanied by lightning. One should be aware of this when hiking as storms can come up very quickly, sometimes with little warning.


Many people would say that autumn is the most beautiful season. The weather is usually sunny with turquoise blue skies and warm (but not hot) days and cool nights. An early snow can bring a quick end to fall as early as late September. A normal first snowfall in the area is around Halloween.


Winter brings with it blankets of snow. Average yearly snowfall at the visitor center is 25". Snow and ice can close trails and the ladders to Alcove House so call the visitor center to get details. Although winter weather can make access to some sites difficult, snow can add a beauty all its own to the scenery.

Bandelier Visitor Center

Open All Year
Memorial Day to Labor Day 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Fall and Spring 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Autumn time change to Spring time change 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

505-672-3861 x 517

Frijoles Canyon, 3 miles from park entrance.

The park is closed December 25 and January 1.
Due to severe space limitations, trailers may not be brought into the parking areas in Frijoles Canyon (drop them off at Juniper Campground, near the park entrance).  During most of the year, buses must drop off passengers at the Visitor Center and then park at Juniper Campground. Also due to limited space, there may be up to an hour wait for parking in summer,on holidays, and even some days in spring and fall. Pets are not permitted on trails or in buildings and must be on leash at all times where allowed.

Special Programs
Craft-making demonstrations by local artists are presented on weekends throughout summer months. Evening programs are presented in the campground amphitheater during summer months.

The Visitor Center in Frijoles Canyon has exhibits on Ancestral and historic Pueblo culture.  A special exhibit on the Civilian Conservation Corps opened in April 2003.

Available Facilities
Rangers are on duty to provide information on monument as well as nearby attractions.  Trails to the nearby archeological sites, as well as longer ones into the backcountry, begin near the Visitor Center.  Please remember that pets are not permitted on trails or in buildings and must be on leash where allowed. Information, guidebooks, an orientation slide show, and Wilderness permits are available at the Visitor Center.  A bookstore operated by Western National Parks (formerly Southwest Parks and Monuments) Association is also within the visitor center building. Concessionaire-operated gift shop and snack bar (phone: 505-672-9791) are open year-round and are located nearby, as well as a picnic area and restrooms.

Fees & Reservations


7-Day Automobile/Vehicle Permit
Entrance fee for all persons traveling in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle (car/truck/van). Non-transferable.

7-Day Single Entry Permit
Per person entrance fee for visitors traveling on foot or bicycle, or for individuals traveling together in a vehicle as a non-commercial, organized group. Non-transferable.

Bandelier National Monument Annual Pass
Valid for one year from month of purchase. Admits purchaser and passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle, or the pass holder and his/her immediate family (spouse, children, parents) when entry is by other means (foot, bicycle). Non transferable, non-refundable and does not cover camping fees.

Tour Groups - Commercial Vehicles

Entrance fees are based on the seating capacity of the vehicle (driver not included).
1 – 6 passengers: $25.00 per vehicle plus $6.00 per person (16 years of age or older)
7 – 15 passengers: $50.00 per vehicle
16 – 25 passengers: $60.00 per vehicle
26+ passengers: $150.00


America the Beautiful Pass Series
Starting January 1, 2007 the old Golden Age, Golden Eagle, and Golden Access Passes was replaced with a new series of interagency passes called the America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. For more information, go to

All National Parks Passes, Golden Eagle, Golden Eagle Hologram, Golden Access and Golden Age Passports will continue to be honored according to the provisions of the pass.

Non-commercial Organized Groups

Groups and organizations that are non-commercial, and do not qualify for an educational fee waiver (churches, school clubs, scout groups, and other organizations), are charged per person. The fee is $6/person for those aged 16 and over.

Educational Groups
Free! - Entrance fee waiver available for bona fide educational groups visiting the park as part of their course work; call at least 2 weeks in advance to submit form for fee waiver (505)672-3861 x 534 (or
e-mail us).
More information for educational groups.

Activity Fees

Juniper Campground
$12 per night, per campsite - Limits are two vehicles, three tents and 10 people per site. Overflow parking is available. Fee is $6 for holders of Golden Age or Golden Access Passes. The campground is self-registration; reservations are not available, but there are almost always spaces available.

Ponderosa Group Campground
$35 per night - Ponderosa Campground is available for groups (minimum 10, maximum 50 people per site). Reservations are required (505-672-3861 x 534, or e-mail e-mail us) for the two sites; flat fee $35 per site per night.


As in February, warm sunny days are balanced by cold snowy days. On the average there are just more sunny warm days in March than in February. Wind is often the most notable weather element during this month. A strong wind often heralds a marked change in temperature. The Main Loop Trail is the only trail on which snow is removed. Other trails remain snow and ice covered in the morning and wet and muddy later in the day. Sandhill Cranes continue to pass overhead on their way north. By the end of the month, the turkey vultures return to roost in the cottonwoods by the visitor center. In the lower elevations, the first wildflowers of the season begin to bloom. Visitation is still moderately low. Backcountry use increases as students on spring break take advantage of the over 70 miles of backcountry trails. Fee collection returned to the entrance station on March 10th. Visitor Center hours extended in mid-month (hours changed to 9 AM - 530 PM on March 9th this year). Juniper Campground reopened on the 1st.

MARCH 2008
All trails are currently open except for the trail between Alcove House and Upper Crossing. Juniper Family Campground has reopened after being closed for the winter. Snow is melting rapidly and warm temperatures are expected to continue.  Snow is gone from most lower elevation trails. However, a foot of snow fell on the area on March 5 -6 and more snow could fall at any time. The first butterflies of the season, Mourning Cloaks and Commas, have been seen. Other hibernators, such as Rock Squirrels and Fence Lizards, have also been spotted making their first appearance since autumn. As expected the turkey vultures have returned to the cottonwoods in Frijoles Canyon.  The fee station at the park entrance opened on Monday, March 10th. Visitation has been steady with many people on spring break. Juniper Campground has had some campers every night even though night-time temperatures are often in the 20's and 30's. Although snow is still plentiful in the upper elevations of the park, warm weather has made winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing almost impossible.


Cold, gray or snowy days are not uncommon but neither are warm sunny days. Dramatic changes in weather can happen quickly. Sandhill Cranes can be heard flying overhead as they head south for the winter. Trees have lost their leaves. Animals that are active year-round can still be seen along park trails or the entrance road. Those that hibernate won't be seen again until spring. Elk head for lower elevations and may be seen on the entrance road. Visitation is usually low except on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. By mid-month the fees are collected in the visitor center instead of the entrance station.


By Car

Visitors traveling on I-25 (ie From Santa Fe) 
Take Interstate-25 exit 282B (St Francis/ US HWY 84/285) for Santa Fe. Travel north on HWY 285 for 19 miles; you will go straight through the city. Exit onto State HWY 502 near the Cities of Gold Casino in Pojoaque. Travel west 11.5 miles, follow the signs to Bandelier and merge onto HWY 4. Travel west on HWY 4 for 11.5 miles, through the town of White Rock. The Bandelier Monument entrance is on the left side of the road.

Scenic alternative route for those going north on I-25
Near Bernalillo, take Interstate-25 exit 232 (Rio Ranch) for US HWY 550, continue for 23.5 miles. At San Ysidro, exit onto HWY 4. Travel northeast over the mountains for 54 miles to the park entrance which will be on the right side of the road. This is a good paved road that passes by the Valles Caldera National Preserve. However, it does go above 9,000 feet in elevation and is not advisable in winter weather.

Visitors traveling from Taos
Take NM HWY 68 (Paseo del Pueblo Sur) south for 47 miles. In Espanola, turn right onto East Paseo de Onate (N HWY 285/84); travel 3/4 mile on this road across the Rio Grande. At the light, turn left onto HWY 30 (Los Alamos HWY) and travel south for 8.5 miles. Bear right onto the HWY 502 ramp and travel west for 2 miles. Then merge onto HWY 4 and travel west for 11.5 miles, through the town of White Rock. The entrance to Bandelier will be on the left side of the road.

Public transportation to the monument is not available. Some private tour companies include Bandelier on their guided bus tours. Visit the New Mexico tourism website for more information.


By May snow is uncommon but not impossible. Days are usually warm and sunny. Summer birds such as grosbeaks, tanagers, and flycatchers return. Wildflowers and butterflies are abundant. Daytime temperatures in May are warm but rarely hot. Nighttime temperatures can still be cool.  Lingering snow and ice is gone from most trails except at the highest elevations.  Visitation is moderate with many school groups and tour buses.  Summer season begins Memorial Day weekend with expanded visitor center hours and more frequent interpretive programs.  The parking lots sometimes fill over this holiday weekend.

May 2008
The month started out cool and windy but the weather is supposed to warm up and the wind to die.  Summer birds have returned to the park.  Black bears have also been active so make sure not to leave food where they can steal it.  Snow is gone from all areas of the park.  Numerous flowers are blooming but having had little rain since the snows stopped is starting to take its toll.  There are currently no fire restrictions in place but that may change.  Remember, smoking is only permitted on the trail in areas clear of vegetation for a minimum of 5'.

Canada Violet
Chiming Bells
Big Golden Pea
Claretcup Cactus
Perky Sue
Purple Penstemon
Easter Daisies
Indian Paintbrush
Western Wallflower

Least Sandpiper
Black-headed Grosbeak*
Western Tanager*
Virginia Warbler*
Orange-crowned Warbler*
Bullock's Oriole
Say's Phoebe*
Ash-throated Flycatcher*
Northern Shoveler
American Widgeon
Snowy Egret
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake*
Whiptail Lizard*
Short-horned Lizard*
Yellow-rumped Warbler*

*This is a common summer species first seen this month after either migrating away for the winter or hibernating.


July starts out hot but the start of the afternoon thunderstorm season moderates temperatures by mid-month. Afternoon thunderstorms may be an almost daily occurrence, dropping large volumes of rain in isolated areas and being accompanied by potentially dangerous lightning. Flashfloods are possible in canyon areas. The possibility of hazardous weather must be taken into account when planning hikes, especially into the higher elevations. Wildflowers, butterflies, and birds are numerous throughout the park. Evening programs are given every Friday and Saturday night at Juniper Campground. Nightwalks are offered one night per week. The third and final session of Daycamp for Kids is held July 9 - 12.  Remember, fireworks are not permitted anywhere in the monument. There is a spectacular fireworks show on the 4th of July in the nearby community of White Rock, 10 miles from the park entrance. Park visitation may be heavy and the Frijoles Canyon parking lots could fill to capacity.


June is more often than not the hottest and driest month of the year. When hiking, be sure to carry plenty of water. Trails are normally ice-free throughout the park. Although possible, snow is very unlikely.  Interpretive Evening Programs are given every Friday and Saturday night at Juniper Campground.  Nightwalks are given one night a week.  There are two sessions of Daycamp for Kids, June 19 - 21 and June 25 - 28.  Bird nesting is in full swing and numerous wildflowers are blooming including the gorgeous Cane Cholla near Long House and Shooting Stars in the higher elevations.  Visitation starts out slow but becomes heavy by mid-month.  A wait for parking is possible.