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How Accessible Is Accessible: Bandelier National Monument

Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021

During a recent trip to New Mexico, after a mini photoshoot with my friend Gabaccia, she recommended I visit Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier is not a Park I have heard of,

so I thought, I am here, why not. My curiosity got the best of me, and I am so glad that my man Randy Martinez was up for being spontaneous and going on the adventure with me.

We arrived at the park late afternoon, and didn’t have much time to explore the park the way I wanted to, but, I am so glad we made the effort and experienced what we did. This is one park I definitely plan on returning to and visiting again!

Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021

I was never taught about the Ancestral Pueblo people in any of the schools I've attended, so I’m glad I got to learn about their existence and history by experiencing this park.

The remains in the Bandelier show evidence of human presence going back over 11,000 years. Archeological surveys show at least 3,000 sites in Bandelier.

Reminders of The Ancestral Pueblo People’s place in history remain in their homes, their kivas and their art. The Ancestral Pueblo people have always been here, farming, creating pottery, weaving and making Petroglyph art. With each step I took in the park, I felt connected to the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo People.

Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021

The park has three miles of roads and over 70 miles of trails. I always recommend starting at the visitor center, because that is where you can find trail guides, park brochures, the park store and more! Speaking with the Park Ranger and Volunteers can help you gain valuable knowledge about the park as well as about accessibility. The visitor center is open daily usually from 9am to 5 pm, except for Christmas Day on December 25th and New Years Day on January 1st.

Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021

There is a paved 1.4 mile Pueblo loop Trail to the cliff dwellings and Tyuonyi, that begins at the Visitor Center in Frijoles Canyon. The trail to the cliff dwellings, Frijoles Canyon, Alcove House takes an hour plus, depending on how far along the trail you plan on venturing, so keep that in mind. If you plan on venturing to the Alcove House, give yourself at least two hours. In my video, I am talking to you from the first cliff dwellings (Talus House) location.

This trail is doable for wheelchairs, rolling walkers, canes, walking sticks, but as I mention in my video, there are things you need to know when doing this trail. There are points along the paved trail that are nice and flat, but there are also parts of the trail that have inclines as you’re going up hill. The elevation is high, so as you can see in the video, I found myself having shortness of breath. The good news is there are benches to rest along the way, so I paced myself, rested when needed, sat on the benches and drank a lot of water along the way.

Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021

Remember to always stay hydrated, wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. The sun was really strong, and there are no designated shaded areas along this trail. That might be something the parks could add to the areas where the benches are.

Other things to remember when visiting the park:

-The park is open year round.

-Service animals are welcome at the park

-Respect the sites, nature and land

-Stay on trails

-Climbing on walls or cliffs is prohibited

-Removing anything from the park: plants, animals, rocks or historic features is a felony

-Do not feed the animals: squirrels can bite & may carry plague

-Leave no trace

-Bring your own water & don't drink from streams: the waterborne intestinal parasite Giardia Lamblia is found in Bandelier

-Pace yourself & rest when needed

-To avoid heatstroke, don’t hike in high temperatures

-To avoid crowds, the best time to explore the park is early in the morning, or late afternoon.

Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021

Thank you for reading my blog! Contributions help keep The Disabled Photographer Project "How Accessible Is Accessible" blog and series going, and you can support the project by making a donation Here:

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