48 wonders of the West

These national monuments and other treasures will make you fall in love with the West all over again

Bandelier National Monument

Winter walking in Bandelier

Bandelier National Monument

Douglas Merriam

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Last spring, Bandelier National Monument made headlines with the Cerro Grande wildfire, which began here then raged out of control over nearby Los Alamos and some 43,000 acres of forest. But the heart of Bandelier itself was spared. Take a winter stroll through the monument, just northwest of Santa Fe, and you'll find its sun-warmed canyons provide a glimpse of nature's rejuvenation, as well as a peek into the ancient past.

Pick a mild afternoon and hit Bandelier's highlights: First peruse at the visitor center, then hike a popular trail up Frijoles Canyon (neither were harmed by the fire). The visitor center offers displays of pottery, flora, and fauna, and a short film on the area's history (the monument was set aside in 1916, primarily to preserve the remnants of an ancestral Pueblo settlement).

On the paved 1.2-mile Main Loop Trail up Frijoles Canyon, you'll soon see low stone walls, the excavated ruins of an ancestral Pueblo village that stood in the narrow valley bottom more than 800 years ago.


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