I am excited to share this post on the Frijoles Canyon Cliff Dwellings in Bandelier National Monument, as it was one of my favorite spots we visited. Talk about idyllic southwest scenery and history! A blending of Native, thousand-year old cliff dwellings and more recent vintage history of quaint lodges and an adventurous female.
For those of you that may not be as familiar with U.S. history, the southwest portion of the country was originally settled by Native tribes hundreds of years ago. Spanish conquistadors later made their way up through Mexico and colonized the area, bringing in Catholicism and Spanish culture and language. Then Mexico became a country, and it later sold this section of land to the U.S. Natives experienced abuse under all three countries but have maintained many aspects of their heritage and culture nonetheless.
The southwest is also one of the oldest areas of the United States, in the sense that there are still structures and sites dating back hundreds of years. I think most Americans think of the east coast as having all the old stuff from the 1600s when European settlers came, but the southwest beats it by a long shot! Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument is one of the sites left by Native tribes from thousands of years ago.
These ancient peoples were cliff dwellers, and they made homes by digging out cave-like rooms in the porous rocks of the cliff facings. In front of these and supported by logs driven into the rock, they built two- and three-story brick homes. This park has the ruins of these brick homes and storage buildings, petroglyphs, and cliff rooms you can climb into and explore.
It's $20 a car to get in, and it's totally worth it! The landscape is unlike other areas around Santa Fe and has unique diversity. The loop from the gift shop/lodge area to the archaeological sites is only a little over a mile, so it's a doable trail for people of different fitness levels. (The first section is also wheelchair and stroller accessible. The second section has narrow pathways up by the cliff face.) I highly recommend you stop and visit if you're ever in the area!
Have you ever been to Bandelier National Monument and checked out the cliff dwellings? Is the southwest an area you love to travel to or wish you could?
Spring Sweetheart shirt: c/o Memo Illustration
Scarf and clam diggers: vintage
belt: local festival purchase
shoes: Arris Allen