Frijoles Canyon Frolick

I’ve done quite a bit of hiking in Bandelier National Monument, but my reluctance to pay for it has kept me away from the visitor center area in Frijoles Canyon. My Dad is overdue to get his National Parks Senior Pass though, the one screaming good deal offered at the gate – the last ten dollars he’ll ever spend to get into a national park. So it is that I ride his coattails into an area that really is worth the entrace fee. The main loop trail takes you through Tyuonyi, an ancient pueblo ruin that housed hundreds of natives between 1200 and 1500 AD. Part of the dwelling was a large free-standing circular structure with 400 rooms, and at least as many rooms are carved into and built out of the canyon cliffs above. I get so engrossed reading the guide that I forget to take pictures! So all the photos are from the trail that descends Frijoles Canyon past two waterfalls to the Rio Grande. The canyon walls are stacked with alternating layers of striped sedimentary rock and columnar basalt, giving it a unique texture. When I reach the bottom I stand on the shores of the big river for the first time since I got here, and it is far more impressive from that vantage point than any other. I let my imagination drift down the wild canyon with it before starting back up to the trailhead. Slides:

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