Bandelier's Best

We spent today out at Bandelier National Monument and it was wonderful!  The weather was perfect- the skies were that brilliant New Mexico blue with fluffy white clouds, the crowds were non-existent and the kids were happy.  We got there about noon and checked out the visitor's center before eating lunch at the car.  Then we headed out on the Main Loop Trail.  This is where you see many cave dwellings that you can climb into, petroglyphs and reconstructions of cliff dwellings.

These are the remains of Tyuonyi (chew-OHN-yee) Pueblo.  This village contained 400 rooms and housed about 100 people. 

From there we walked up to the first area of cliff dwellings called Talus House .  These were houses constructed on the side of cliffs.  The cliffs are composed of tuff which is compacted volcanic ash.  Even though tuff is soft, these caves had to be dug out of the cliff wall (they enlarged the already existing holes).

An impromptu game of rock, paper, scissors.

The Long House had dwellings built right along the cliff wall.  You can see the line of holes which indicate where the vigas (ceiling beams) were placed.  This indicates how high the dwelling reached.  All along this wall you can also see petroglyphs shaped like turkeys, lightning bolts and dogs.

Lastly, we walked along Frijoles Creek (El Rito de Los Frijoles- Spanish for "the little river of beans"  to the Alcove House.  Along the way I took photos of the kids over my shoulder to keep them moving.  It led to lots of silliness!

Finally, the coup de grace, the climb up four ladders (this being the longest) to Alcove House.   

At the top is a large cave and this kiva which you can enter (here's proof that I was there!).

The way down was steep, but pretty easy.  What a special day with my two favorite kids!