From mid-May to mid-September, you cannot drive into Bandelier because there is very little parking inside the park. So the town cooperates with the park service to provide a visitor center and free shuttles to the park visitor center. I was impressed because this county RV park was available for day-use parking while you took the shuttle into the park. There are electrical hookups and a dump station and water, so you can also pay $20 and spend the night. Very convenient.
To stay overnight at the RV park, you pay here with a credit card.
Everyone must ride the shuttle into the park unless you are disabled, have a pet traveling with you, or have special permission. Campers can drive part of the way into the canyon to the campground, but cannot go all the way to the visitor center.
We were told that this area is part of an ancient volcanic caldera, and it is pulling apart, causing all the canyons to form--sort of a rift valley in the U.S.
Some of these holes in the cliff face are blackened from cooking or heating fires, so they have been homes. I will come back next year when I have more time to explore.
Most of the homes, however, were located in pueblo villages in the flat valley floor. The following photo shows a kiva for one village.
This pueblo consists of about a hundred rooms in a semi-circular shape.
Can you see the people who have climbed up some steps to see the dwelling on the cliff? I will do this next time, but since the last bus was in a little more than an hour, I felt I had to skip it this time.
I turned around because I was worried about missing the shuttle and took the nature trail back to the visitor center.
This is an Abert's squirrel. It is found in northern Arizona and northern New Mexico, and can be identified by its tufted ears and unique coloring. Mostly, they eat pine nuts instead of acorns, mainly because acorns are scarce in this very high desert. I am not sure what he is eating here.
My, what big ears you have!
He scampered off when a grey squirrel came up, but I caught up with him a hundred feet farther down the trail. In this photo, he is definitely working on getting pine nuts from a pinion pine cone.
The biggest reason why the native American's settled and lived so long in this canyon is the streams here that provided irrigation for their gardens. There were also springs along the canyon wall that provided water for drinking and home use.
There was a very long line to take the second-to-the-last shuttle, but we all crammed in. I will come back here again.
The road north following the Rio Grand River back to Taos, NM.
This is the Gorge of the Rio Grande. I had no idea the river even went this far north!
This Taos in the distance against the mountains. They ski here and I am planning on spending a few days in this area--except no skiing! It certainly feel cold enough to ski, however.