June 18, 2018
After four days of driving our motor home due west on I40, we arrived at Santa Fe Skies RV Park. This is a return visit to this area and our goal was to cover some of the landmarks and interesting hikes we didn’t have time for last year.
I’ll just start by saying that we love Santa Fe, the culture, architecture and the topography. The land, sky and mountains come together here so beautifully. The high altitude plateaus is our cup of tea, it could be 100 degrees during the day (which thankfully so far it hasn’t been) but is cools down to a comfortable 60s in the evening making it very pleasant to sit in our patio area. Last year we stayed in this beautiful campground but didn’t land the “ perfect” campsite. This year we planned ahead and voila! heaven.
Bandelier National Monument is an easy hour drive from Santa Fe and we decided to stop at Los Alamos as a side attraction. This is a place that Leo, an engineer by education has always been curious to see, as it was the US government’s super secret location during World War II where the atom bomb was developed. We were somewhat disappointed as not much history is really preserved and too many pay to enter “museums” seem to pop up everywhere, so after about an hour wondering around, we decided to leave and head for Bandelier National Monument.
We drove to Bandelier from Los Alamos ( in Spanish “The Elms) sort of the back entrance to the park. Normally in order to get into the park you need to shuttle in from the White Rock town visitor center, which is about a 20 minute shuttle ride (cars are not allowed in Bandelier). Our back entrance approach, required us to go through the Los Alamos National Laboratory grounds and a “checkpoint” stop through a heavily guarded entrance where a combat ready guard quizzed us as to “why are you here”. After we proved that we had no nefarious intentions the road took us to the Frey loop parking area of Bandelier where we hopped on a shuttle for a short ride to the park visitor center. The park started this shuttle system in 2011 because they realized that there are not enough parking spaces available at the park entrance. BTW, if you are old biddys like us, you should really consider buying a life time National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass. It is a great investment if you plan to visit national parks and monuments. With the pass we now get in free to all of the US parks (our original investment was $10 but now is cost $80), If you don’t have a pass then this particular park will cost you $25 per car load.
From the visitor center there’s a 2 mile loop road that takes you to the ancestral Pueblo dwellings. There are broad mesas, kiva foundations and access to the dwellings via a system of ladders. Overall it’s a fun easy hike that provides some challenge if you are the adventure seeking type like Leo. There wasn’t a ladder he didn’t climb here!