Bandelier National Monument

Description

General Info| Maps | DescriptionThings to Do
Camping and Lodging
| Nearby/ Resource

 

Cultural History

Native Peoples

Several thousand years ago, the Pajarito Plateau was used by mobile Paleo-Indian hunters, and later by Archaic hunter-gatherers, who wandered through the canyons seeking game and wild plants.

About 2,000 years ago, small family groups of Anasazi moved into the canyon occupying pit houses and cultivating corn, beans and squash. Pottery, and architecture slowly evolved in this region as it did throughout other Anasazi locations in the Southwest, but people continued living in small scattered settlements of one or two families.

About 800 years ago, there appeared a sudden influx of people, perhaps migrating from dryer areas of the Four Corners. People began living together in much larger groups creating villages (pueblos) with as many as 40 rooms.

This increase in population marked a cultural explosion. The Anasazi here began employing crude topols to scoop out dwellings from the soft volcanic tuff walls of the Pajarito Plateau fronting cave-like with multistory masonry buildings supported by wooden beams. These villages can be seen today for more than a mile along the talus slopes of Frijoles Canyon.

In the 13th century, the Anasazi constructed Tyuonyi, the circular two-story Pueblo in the bottom of Frijoles Canyon, just behind the Monument's Visitor Center. This high-walled village boomed in the 15th century, hosing as many as 100 people.

About 1500, with the emergence of the Spanish into the Desert Southwest, the residents left the canyon, never to return. Their descendants probably lived in Cochiti and San lldefonso pueblos a few miles east on the Rio Grande River.

Subsequent archeological surveys have revealed thousands of sites throughout the plateau.

Exploration & Settlement

Adolph F.A. Bandelier was born in Switzerland in 1840 and raised in Illinois. In 1880, this 40-year-old self-taught anthropologist-historian came to the New Mexico Territory under sponsorship of the Archeological Institute of America. His goal was to trace the social organization, customs and movements of the Southwestern and Mexican peoples.

Bandelier traveled and studied the canyons and mesas throughout the region, speaking with many indigenous people and visiting 166 ruins in New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico. In 1880, men from Cochiti Pueblo guided Bandelier to their nearby ancestral homes in Frijoles Canyon. When he came upon the ancient pueblo ruins, he is reported to have exclaimed, "This is the grandest thing I ever saw."

The canyon's year-round stream, sheer cliffs and cave-room architecture inspired Bandelier to write the 1890 novel, The Delight Makers, depicting Pueblo life in pre-Spanish times. Bandelier's pioneering work laid much of the foundation for modern Southwest archeology.

Political History

Edward L. Hewett, who directed several excavations in Frijoles Canyon in the early 1900s, saw the need to preserve the ancestral Pueblo sites and was instrumental in its establishment as a national monument. Bandelier National Monument was proclaimed on February 11, 1916; transferred from Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, February 25, 1932. Acreage: 32,737, all federal. Wilderness area: 23,267.

Natural History

Plants & Animals

Frijoles Canyon was named for the beans grown along the creek which, year-round, flows southeast from the Jemez Mountains to the Rio Grande River. Almost three-quarters of Bandelier National Monument is wilderness area between 5,000 and 10,000-foot elevations, providing a rich variety of plant communities. Cottonwood and Box Elders cover the canyon bottoms; Yucca, Saltbush and Cholla cling to the canyon walls; Pinyon and Juniper crowd the mesa tops, while Fir and Ponderosa Pine inhabit the highest elevations.

These rich habitats are home to many animals common to these zones, including Elk, Black Bear, Mountain Lions and the protected Jemez Mountain Salamander.

Geology

The 10,000-foot Jemez peaks surrounding Bandelier National Monument are actually the rim of an ancient volcano. About a million years ago, eruptions from this volcano covered the entire area with lava and ash. The ash hardened into a soft rock called tuff. The entire Pajarito Plateau, through which Frijoles Canyon was carved, is composed of this Bandelier Tuff, except the very lowest portion of harder basalt.

After its final eruptions (about 100 times more powerful than Mt. Saint Helens) the Jemez volcano collapsed, leaving a 14-mile wide caldera known as Valle Grande. A portion of this giant caldera runs along the Route 4 to Jemez Hot Springs. Like many other New Mexico volcanoes, the Jemez Volcano occurred along faults that edge the west side of the Rio Grande Rift.


Share this page on Facebook:


DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)


The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms

SEARCH THIS SITE









 



The Black Widow SpiderView Video about The Black Widow Spider. The female black widow spider is the most venomous spider in North America, but it seldom causes death to humans, because it only injects a very small amount of poison when it bites. Click here to view video.

The Bobcat

The BobcatVideo available on this subject.
Despite its pussycat appearance when seen in repose, the bobcat is quite fierce and is equipped to kill animals as large as deer. However, food habit studies have shown bobcats subsist on a diet of rabbits, ground squirrels, mice, pocket gophers and wood rats. Join us as we watch this sleepy bobcat show his teeth.

Mountain Lion

The Mountain Lion
The Mountain Lion, also known as the Cougar, Panther or Puma, is the most widely distributed cat in the Americas. It is unspotted -- tawny-colored above overlaid with buff below. It has a small head and small, rounded, black-tipped ears. Watch one in this video.

___________________________________

Take a look at our Animals index page to find information about all kinds of birds, snakes, mammals, spiders and more!



Hot temperatures in the desertAre you interested in the temperatures in the desert?

Click here to see current desert temperatures!

DesertUSA is a comprehensive resource about the North American deserts and Southwest destinations. Learn about desert biomes while you discover how desert plants and animals learn to adapt to the harsh desert environment. Find travel information about national parks, state parks, BLM land, and Southwest cities and towns located in or near the desert regions of the United States. Access maps and information about the Sonoran Desert, Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert.



 
   
 
   
Copyright © 1996-2017 DesertUSA.com and Digital West Media, Inc. - -