Bandelier National Monument Expects High Visitation During Spring Break

Burnt Mesa Trail in Bandelier National Monument. Photo Courtesy NPS


From mid-March through mid-April, spring break for most schools across the country, Bandelier National Monument expects visitation to increase significantly. When parking lots in Frijoles Canyon fill, near the visitor center and within walking distance of the Pueblo Loop and the Falls Trails, you may be asked to return at a later time. If you are planning to visit Bandelier during spring break this year, it’s recommended that you plan your visit for either early morning or late in the day to avoid the busy mid-day surge. If parking lots are at capacity, there are options available within a 30-minute drive. Consider a circle tour and visit nearby National Park Service areas, Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Los Alamos or Valles Caldera National Preserve to learn about and explore more of the human and natural history of the area. As well, there are museums and a nature center in Los Alamos, with more to discover.

If you’d like to stay at Bandelier, why not hike one of the less visited trails in the park? Bandelier has over 70 miles of trails, some long and difficult, some shorter and easier. For your choice of short trails at Bandelier, Burnt Mesa trail is a good option. It’s relatively flat and 2.5 miles (one way) to an overlook of a side canyon of Frijoles Canyon. Located on Highway 4 about three miles from the main park entrance, Burnt Mesa offers plenty of bird life and early spring flowers. The trail may be dusty or muddy in the spring, but it always has beautiful mountain and canyon vistas.

For heartier souls, the Ponderosa Trail into Frijoles Canyon could be a consideration. Starting at Ponderosa Group Campground, the trail crosses a mesa and enters Frijoles Canyon to the Upper Crossing of where the trail intersects Frijoles Creek. The trip from Ponderosa to Upper Crossing is about 3.5 miles roundtrip and the elevation change into the canyon is approximately 600 feet. Remember, whatever elevation you climb down, you’ll have to climb back up. Since this side of the canyon is sunny even in the winter, there’s rarely snow or ice on the trail by spring break but taking micro spikes is always a good idea. If you are feeling extra energetic, then climb out to the canyon’s west rim and take in the views.  Pasque flowers may be in bloom adding an extra bonus for the exertion. Traction devices could be more than a suggestion for this trail as the shady side of Frijoles Canyon gets minimal sun during the winter.  

Regardless of your hiking choice please remember to dress appropriately with layers and footwear. Carry water and snacks and let someone know about your plans. Early spring weather in the mountains of Northern New Mexico is unpredictable and can change quickly. 

Bandelier National Monument is open every day from sunrise to sunset. In Frijoles Canyon, the park visitor center and the park store (operated by Western National Parks Association) is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and the café, Sirphey’s at Bandelier, is open from 9am to 4:30pm.   

Park entrance fees are $25 per private vehicle, $20 per motorcycle, or $15 per bicycle/individual. All entrance passes are valid for 7 days. Camping fees are not included in entrance fees. America the Beautiful– the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes are accepted for entrance fees. The full suite of America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes as well as Bandelier Annual passes are available for purchase at the visitor center. For more information about types of passes and prices visit:

For information about Bandelier visit, call the visitor center, (505) 672-3861, ext. 0.  Like us on Facebook BandelierNPS, follow us on Instagram and Twitter@BandelierNPS

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