As much as we like hanging out in downtown Santa Fe, the surrounding area offers a spectacular landscape to explore.
Frijoles Canyon is the home of Bandelier National Monument. Located within the Monument are the remains of Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings, many available for exploration.
More than a million years ago huge ash flows from eruptions at the Valles Caldera covered this area. Over time the ash cooled and formed a type of volcanic rock called tuff. Tuff is very light and soft. The Ancestral Pueblo people exploited this quality to carve out openings and create living spaces.
You have to climb a series of ladders to get to the upper ruins.
Frijoles Creek provided a year round source of water for the canyons residents.
Ellen and Rory soaking up the Fall colors.
Tsankawi is a separate section of the Monument located closer to Los Alamos. Here you can see and explore cave dwellings and a large in unexcavated village.
This area of the Monument was also covered in volcanic ash which became tuff.
Ancient foot paths form well worn grooves in the tuff throughout Tsankawi.
Ancient foot holds for ascending the Mesa.
The view from the village site
Some of the many petroglyphs at the site.
A quick detour over to Lookout Park in White Rock gave us some spectacular views of the Rio Grande.
The hike that excited Ellen and Rory the most was the one in the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
These cone shaped rock formations are the result of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago. The eruptions left pumice, ash and tuff deposits 1,000 feet thick. Weathering from water and wind created these formations. Perched on top of these tapered hoodoos(tents) are boulder caps which protect the softer pumice and tuff below.
The Canyon Trail is a 1.5 mile hike through a slot canyon and then up to the top of a Mesa overlook.
At the top for lunch.
Spending as much time as we do in wilderness areas makes this Wendell Berry quote all the more meaningful.