Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bandelier National Monument { New Mexico Vacation}

Last week we had the amazing opportunity to go on a small family vacation before the little Bean gets here. It was so nice to just spend some time away with just Little Man and take a break from our every day lives.
For our trip, we traveled ten hours to Santa Fe, NM!
I have a special place in my heart for AZ and Darling said that Santa Fe was quite similar. After going, I can see why he said that but have to kindly disagree. They are both SUPER fun and desert like for sure... but totally unique in their own ways.
Since our trip was over five days, I will divide each day or two up so its not one, super long post. :) you know, because I love you all. <3

For our first day in Santa Fe we decided to take advantage of the last National Park week (where you get into any national park for free for the entire week it is going on) and visit Bandelier National Monument. Since entry into  national parks is about $20 for a week (per car and as a minimal fee) that was a GREAT steal for us since we only wanted to go the one day!
When you first arrive there is a bit of a drive to the visitor center. If you go early enough (like we did) you can see a bit of wild life there too.

Inside the visitor center is a museum of Native American history and Bandelier history that is actually quite child friendly!


There is also a large park model and small park maps for a $1 (which we skipped since we wanted to keep this one free... I know.... so cheap. ha), two gift shops, and a little deli shop that was serving pre-made sandwiches and ice cream.
Something we learned about Bandelier is that it only has a few trails, some harder then others, but, since its a national park, you can actually explore a lot of the area on your own (with a camping permit) and just hunker down outside or in a cave like the Pueblos did all those years ago.
Since we had our dog with us on our trip (at the hotel) we opted to just take the main loop trail and to see the Alcove house, which was a total of about a three mile hike.
On the Main loop you can see quite a bit of the ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings.



A few of them you can even climb into!


Once up inside you get a great view of the ancient city bellow.

But by far, hardest part of the hike was getting to the Alcove house. It is up 140 feet and only accessible via a wooden ladder, fallowed by a very narrow (one foot in from of the other no passing) staircase up a cliff side, fallowed by two three more wooden ladders.

I forgot to get a shot from bellow so you can see the entire path, and I personally did not go up to the top to see it (this is where I stopped, at the bottom of the second/ longest ladder). But Here is a photo I found via google of it in its entirety. 


It is amazing how fearless we are before fears are created or instilled in us. My three year old son climbed all the way up with his daddy behind him all the way with no fear what so ever... even though Darling said he slipped once on the ladder (not sure if that was kidding or not). I was so proud and wish I had the stamina/ confidence to lug my seven month prego butt up there.
After our excursions we sat at the picnic area in front of the visitors center for a bit of lunch before heading home for a much needed nap. All in all, I would say this was my favorite day. I would have loved more time there but, with a toddler and limited supplies of snacks and time, we where still able to get in a LOT of sight seeing. I would highly suggest this even for locals with nothing but a day to visit, but, if you have a week... even better, go cross-country backpacking and maybe find a new path! 

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