Up at 6:00 a.m., we loaded the car and hit the road a little after seven. With a stop at Starbucks, we got to the Bandelier National Monument Visitor's Center about 8:15 a.m. The park was empty, just us and the rangers.
The ancestors of modern Pueblo people built thriving communities in the area about 600 years ago. Several thousand Pueblo dwellings are found among the mesas and sheer-walled canyons. The best-known archeological sites, in Frijoles Canyon near the Visitor Center, were inhabited from the 1100s into the mid-1500s.
We hiked the main loop trail pass the Big Kiva, through the village of Tyuonyl on the valley floor and up into the cliff dwellings to see the talus houses and the long house. There are several places where you can climb up short ladders in the cliff dwellings.
From there, we hiked along Frijoles Creek to the the Alcove House. This dwelling is accessed by climbing 140 feet on a series of stairs and wooden ladders. I am not fond of heights, but all three of us went to the top.
On the way back to the Visitor's Center, we saw a small black bear on the trail. Jack was thrilled.
When we got back to the parking lot, it was completely full. There were people everywhere. It was nice to have started early and have the place essentially to ourselves.
We used the GPS to find a restaurant for lunch and headed into Los Alamos. We had lunch at the Central Avenue Grill.
We were back in Santa Fe a little after 2:00 p.m. Unfortunately, the room was not ready. We are spending the next couple of days at the La Posada. While the Bishop's Lodge was three plus miles out of town, this hotel is three long blocks from the plaza.
Leaving the car and luggage, we walked to the San Miguel Church. Constructed in the early 17th century by Tlaxcalan indians, this structure is one of the oldest churches still in use in the United States.
Back the hotel and into the room, we headed to the pool. We ended up having a very late dinner at Geronimo. I had elk, while Sharon and Jack split lobster and beef short ribs. This was the best meal that we have had so far on the trip. The restaurant is set in an old house way up Canyon drive.
We had walked to the restaurant, but got the hotel to come and pick us up.