We woke up pretty early on Sunday morning and after a quick soak in the hotel hot tub for me and breakfast for both of us, we headed out to Bandelier National Monument. It was a bit of a drive, but again, it was a beautiful day with bright sun, warm temps and wonderful scenery.
The Visitor's Center for Bandelier is in the bottom of the Frijoles Canyon. On the way into the park, we stopped at a scenic overlook at the top of the canyon and got some great views:
You can see in the photo below that the greenest part is along the bottom of the canyon, where the Frijoles Creek flows.
This is driving down to the Visitor's Center. You can see some of the caves carved into the side of the canyon:
One of the first stops on the Main Loop Trail is the large Keva in the bottom of the canyon. This was used as a gathering place for the ancient Pueblo community that lived in the valley. It's actually dug into the ground and would have had a wood and earth roof.
Here's a view of the village from above. You can see the Keva in the middle and the structures surrounding it:
The rock in this canyon was formed mostly from a volcanic explosion and is known as "tuff":
Here I am in one of the rock dwellings that was dug into the side of the canyon:
Here's a cool shot over the valley. You can see the road we came in on going up out of the valley:
In order to get up to the rock dwellings we had to go up and then down these steep little steps. You can see the path we started on along the top of the photo and a teeny person in the upper right corner:
Ania, looking good sporting her baby bump on a sunny day!
This is from inside one of the rock dwellings looking out:
And there are petroglyphs here, too! They're a little hard to see, but you can find a jagged line above the holes along the bottom:
The canyon is also known for having a variety of ecosystems very close together. Here you can see the desert-like sandy soil and cacti very close to the creek bed green plants and Ponderosa pines.
Here's Ania crossing the creek on our way to the Alcove House:
And here's the start of the 140 ft. vertical climb up to the Alcove House:
Ania went first:
And he's what you find at the top. A huge, carved-out gathering place with a Keva built into the side of the canyon. Ania is going down the ladder into the Keva:
Ania going into the Keva:
The view from standing on top of the Keva:
And the view looking up from inside the Keva:
Overlooking the canyon from the Alcove House:
And heading back down. Ania's on the topmost of the 4 ladders we had to take to get up and down from the Alcove House. To the right of Ania's head you can almost see the creek all the way down below:
Once we hiked back to the visitor's center and had a snack, we took this funny photo of me as a tufted ear squirrel. We actually saw one of these on the way into the park and it looked like a black bunny was hopping up a tree, that's how big their ears are:
After Bandelier we drove out to Los Alamos and stopped to take in some beautiful scenery along the way:
Once in Los Alamos, we ended up at the Bradbury Science Museum which tells the history of Science in Los Alamos from when they set it up as a secret location to create and test the atom bombs to it's current state as Los Alamos National Labs. Very interesting history, but you have to take it with a grain of salt since it's totally sponsored by the US Gov't.
And right next to the Museum:
When we were at the Museum we asked one of the employees if their was any place in town where we should grab dinner and the woman basically told us that we should go back to Santa Fe for dinner. So we headed out of town. This cheery sign greets you on the way in and out of town:
On the way back to Santa Fe we had to turn around because a road was closed due to a major accident and the person in front of us, with New Mexico plates, had a magnet on their car from Ocean City, NJ! Kinda crazy:
Some more amazing clouds and scenery on the way back to Santa Fe:
We ended up going to Roadside Harry's for dinner, which was really tasty once we actually found it. When we called for directions the woman sent in exactly the wrong direction on the highway. But it was delicious once we finally made it there. And any day in the Southwest wouldn't be complete without a beautiful sunset!