Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cliff Dwellings in Bandelier National Monument, 4/30/2018

About 48 miles northwest of Santa Fe, is the Bandelier National Monument (established in 1916). It proved to be our first opportunity to see cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Puebloans. Be forewarned, I loved this place!

When driving to the Visitor Center, be sure to pull over at the Frijoles Canyon Overlook. Over 1M years ago, two massive volcanic eruptions occurred (each 600 times more powerful than the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980). Hundreds of feet of ash were compressed into a soft rock called tuff. The canyon was carved by the waters of Frijoles Creek. Native Americans were able to build dwellings into the canyon walls. The Pajarita Plateau (in the far distance) was home to Native Americans from Ice Age hunters (10,000 years ago) to pueblo dwellers (800 years ago).

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the roadtrailsvisitor center and lodge at Bandelier in the 1930s. Thank you and well done! We are continually amazed (and appreciative) of the great work they accomplished for our country. The Visitor Center should be your first stop to pick up a map and check out the exhibits. Unfortunately, pets are not permitted on the trails. 

Exhibits in the visitor center provide background on the cultural history of the site. 

A model of Tyuonyi (the pueblo built here in the 1200-1300s) was on display and provided context to the nearby ruins. 

We picked up a trail guide (nominal fee) for the 1.2 mile, Main Loop Trail to Tyuonyi and cave dwellings. I was immediately mesmerized by “Swiss cheese” rock formations. 

As we began walking the trial, we saw the Frijoles Creek (that provided water for the community) and, in the distance the ladder to some of the cliff dwellings

The trail goes through the Tyuonyi ruins including a kiva and foundation ruins

Climbing the steps to the cave dwellings, we were able to sit inside some of them. Evidence of long-ago fires could be seen in the small caves. 

From the cave dwellings, we had a great view of the ruins of Tyuonyi

The trail continues to provide access to cave dwellings. I couldn’t resist climbing through them to imagine what it must have been like to live here so long ago. 

The trail continues up narrow steps and a ladder to more cave dwellings. 

Structures, sometimes several stories high, were built against the cliff caves and walls. 

In addition to the hand-toe holds in the cliff walls, we began to notice petroglyphs above the dwellings. 

Native American wall art is preserved behind this plexiglass panel (very cool!) Other cave dwellings also have remnants on their walls. 

We crossed the creek and continued on the 1-mile, round trip hike, to the Alcove House. The trail follows the creek through the bottom of Frijoles Canyon. More cliff dwellings can be seen in the distance. Serious flooding in recent years is evident along the canyon floor.

After a .5 mile, we came to Alcove House140’ above the canyon floor. To reach the alcove, there are four ladders and stone steps against the cliff wall (with railings, thankfully). 

There is a reconstructed kiva (where the original one was located) and viga holes and niches of former houses. About 25 people lived here.

As you can imagine, the views from the alcove were fantastic

While descending to the valley floor, I could not help thinking about the Ancestral Puebloans who carried food, supplies, babies, etc., to their lofty home every day. Wow! We hiked back to the Visitor Center along the trail that follows Frijoles Spring. 

We drove to the Cottonwood Picnic Area to eat our lunch. The wooded area has picnic tables next to parking spaces. Dogs are not permitted on paths, but our Sadie enjoyed some play time during lunch. 

We found this place so interesting! I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. Seeing these cliff dwellings up close is such a rare treat. For additional information about the monument, go to www.nps.gov/band.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Sights at Pecos National Historical Site, 4/28/2018

Located about 35 miles east of where we were staying in Santa Fe is the Pecos National Historic Site.

The Visitor Center has impressive exhibits about the cultural history of the area. 

There are three areas to explore here: the museum at the visitor center, the self-guided trail through Pecos Pueblo and Mission Church; and, the self-guided, 2.25 mile Civil War, Battle of Glorieta Pass, hiking trail. 

First, we checked out the visitor center. Extensive exhibits of the pottery created by the ancestral Puebloans can be seen in the visitor center. About 30 pueblos were in the region in the 1300s. 

The exhibits cover the history of the area including the arrival of the Franciscan friars in 1610 and their work to convert Native Americans to Catholicism. Multiple churches were built next to the pueblo; the first in 1625 and the second in 1717. The 1680 Pueblo Revolt drove the Spaniards out of New Mexico for only 12 years. 

The Santa Fe Trail (1821-1880) was a major commerce and travel route next to the pueblo. The display shown below contains a rawhide bag that was used to transport silver. The bags were soaked with water causing them to shrink; holding the coins tightly inside. Beads, buffalo and cattle hides were used for trade between Mexico and the US.

Between 1300 and 1838, the Pecos Pueblo was located on the busy trade route between farming people of the Rio Grande Valley and the Plains Indian hunters

We picked up a trail map at the visitor center and began the 1.25 mile, self-guided trail through the Pecos Pueblos and Mission Church. Also called, Cicuye, the Pecos Pueblo was built on a ridge near an abundant water supply. It was multi-storied and about 2,000 people lived here. A perimeter wall was built around the pueblo.

Ruins of the pueblo remain visible today. 

Kivas provided the connection to the spiritual world and many were found here. A restored one provides an up close view. We were able to climb down the ladder to the cool circular room below. The entry through the roof also serves as a chimney.; and, the a ventilator shaft allows fresh air into the room. The fire pit has a short wall behind it to protect the fire from drafts. These are all common features to Kiva construction in the SW. 

Our sweet doggie, Sadie, was very curious about what I was doing down there and kept peering down into the kiva. 

Remains of multiple (roofless) kivas can be seen along the trail. 

Remains of the Pecos Pueblo are in the mounds. There were 600 rooms and 4-5 stories high. The top fo the mounds are at the 2-story level of the original structures. 

Plenty of farmland was available in the Pecos Valley. Two water sourcesGlorieta Creek and the Pecos River (one mile east) provided plenty of water. Anyone approaching from the Rio Grande Valley or the Great Plains could be seen from the pueblo.

Ruins of the North Pecos Pueblo can be seen here. Sadie had lots of fun trying to chase the many lizards seen here (but, of course, she is not fast enough to catch any!)

Farmers set aside food for winter in huge storerooms in the pueblo. Pecos Pueblo, with 500 warriors, was a dominant power in the region. In 1610, Franciscan friars arrived to convert Native Americas to Catholicism. They destroyed kivas, smashed statues, and banned traditional Pueblo ceremonies. The first Pecos mission church was completed in 1625 and was an large, impressive monument. It survived for 55 years and foundations are still visible today.

The Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish (1860) resulted in the destruction of the church. But the Spanish returned 12 years later and by 1717 a second (smaller) mission church was built

There are extensive remains of the rooms built next to the church for clergy, guests, and those that worked in the church.

Ruins of the South Pueblo are located near the church. It is believed that those who lived here were followers of Christianity and worked closely with the friars. 

In 1838 the few remaining individuals at Pecos Pueblo joined their relatives 80 miles west at Jemez Pueblo. Some of their descendants continue to live there today.

We returned to the Visitor Center to obtain directions to the Glorieta Unit (about 8 miles away). They also provided the code for the combination lock to enable us to open the gate to the area. 

The 2.2 mile trail has interpretive signs along the way to describe the battle that occurred March 26-281862. The first battle was at Apache Canyon on March 26. The heaviest fighting (with many casualties) was at Pigeon’s Ranch the morning of March 28; and the third, and final battle, was at Johnson’s Ranch the afternoon of the 28th. The result was a strategic victory for the Union forces because the Confederate supplies were destroyed (causing them to withdraw to TX). It was the last Civil War conflict in New Mexico. 

Today there are trees in the area, but in 1862 this was cleared for farming and troops fought from the arroyos and rock formations

Learning about the Pueblos and life in this area is fascinating. I especially liked the restored kiva and ruins of the mission church. The two hikes were very different, but both were interesting and fun.

Website: www.nps.gov/peco