The Monument has preserved the homes of ancestral pueblo people that were built on the floor of Frijoles Canyon and in the caves of its walls. The Visitors’ Center offers a short, informative film about the area and there are exhibits of artifacts. Trails allow visitors to see the dwellings in the caves, better preserved because protected from weather, and the remains of pueblos in the open valley. Native vegetation is identified. Miles of trail extend throughout the monument. One can hike for an hour, a day, or a week without seeing the same ground twice. The visitors center offers prepared food and a gift shop.

The Las Conchas Fire of early summer, 2011, burned a huge chunk of the Bandelier Wilderness, but it did not burn the ruins or the Visitors Center. Bandelier reopened in September, though for a time people had to be bussed in from White Rock (a bus every thirty minutes) because the parking lot at the Monument was cluttered with the kind of mess a forest fire leaves.

To get to Bandelier, turn west on 502, merge into NM 4 toward White Rock, go past the town until you reach the entry to Bandelier. This is about one and a half hours from Rancho Jacona.

Phone first. Bandelier had a trauma and its recovery has been. . . spasmodic. We read the latest in the paper, pass it on, and then find out it wasn’t the latest after all. Phone first.