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People have lived in these canyons for more than 10,000 years. Beginning around the year 1150, ancient Pueblo people constructed permanent settlements here which today are protected as Bandelier National Monument.
This 50-square-mile park includes just three miles of roads but more than 70 miles of hiking trails which cross a scenic and diverse landscape.
Visitors can poke around pueblo homes, ceremonial structures called kivas, rock paintings, and petroglyphs. An easy 1.2-mile trail leads from the visitors’ center to several structures, while a slightly longer trail heads to Alcove House, a shelter cave with a small kiva which hikers can enter using a ladder. Visitors can also see the foundations of buildings which were once three stories tall. Reconstructed homes hint at how substantial some of the ancient structures may have been. Structures which can be seen include Tyounyi, Long House, and Talus House.
Longer and more difficult trails head into the backcountry, where hikers can see smaller archaeological sites as well as the beautiful canyon country and even some seasonal waterfalls. One trail leads to the Frijolito Pueblo.
A detached part of the monument, Tsankawi, is located near Los Alamos and has excavated sites and petroglyphs.