The Bandelier National Monument is situated near Los Alamos, New Mexico, and was created in 1916 to preserve the archeological and anthropological resources in the region as well as the geologically unique canyons, mesas, plateaus, and their associated ecosystems.
This national monument covers over 33000 acres of rugged terrain. Geological formations in the area were formed by the ash flow of a volcanic eruption 1-2 million years ago that has since been eroded by wind, water, and weather to form the system of canyons and mesas in the area that provides the Bandelier National Monument with spectacular scenic beauty. Mountains soaring in the background include the 10200 foot peak of Cerro Grande.
What makes the Bandelier National Monument truly unique and special are the archeological sites located here. The region is the location of early settlements of the ancestors of the Puebloan people dating back 11000 years. Many of the artifacts and sites date back to the period between 1150 and 1600, after which the Pueblo people relocated to the Rio Grande areas. Sites at Bandelier National Monument include petroglyphs, which are pictures carved into the soft rock of the canyon walls, rock paintings, and the remnants of Pueblo structures, homes, and settlements.
Most of the sightseeing and historical activities at Bandelier are concentrated in a section of Frijoles Canyon where the main Pueblo peoples archeological sites can be found. There are trails in the area that lead to other ancient sites, and provide access to more canyons, plateaus, and mountain terrain. Plenty of wildlife in the area can be spotted by visitors and hikers, so keep an eye out for the local inhabitants while visiting the park.