Hundreds of years ago, the Anasazi, also known as the Ancestral Pueblo people, carved their homes from the volcanic turf at the sides of the cliffs in the Jemez Mountains. Today, visitors can explore this complex of cliff dwellings, called the Bandelier National Monument.
The 50-square-mile monument offers a glimpse inside the lives of the Anasazi, including their farming and eating habits. Their diets consisted of corn, beans, squash, and native plants, along with deer, rabbit, and squirrel meat. The Anasazi also had domesticated turkeys.
Along with the actual pueblo homes, visitors can see cave paintings and petrogylphs created by the Anasazi. There are miles of hiking trails, and the area is home to abundant wildlife. While you’re there, you may spot one of the black bears or mountain lions that inhabit the national monument area.
The visitor center at the Bandelier National Monument features a museum with exhibits about the Anasazi, including pottery, tools, and other items of daily life. Other exhibits include dioramas demonstrating how the Anasazi lived, artwork, a 10-minute film, and more.
The roads winding through the Jemez Mountains, just northwest of Santa Fe, are filled with history. Along with the Bandelier National Monument, the area is home to a volcanic crater and the birthplace of the atom bomb. You can see it all in a day’s trip from Santa Fe.
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