The Bandelier Region consists of all Bandelier National Monument property south of NM 4, north of the south rim of Frijoles Canyon, and east of the escarpment just west of the Ponderosa Trail. The Bandelier team can cover a lot of distance hiking, but without much vertical gain or loss. Note that Bandelier National Monument currently has a $20 entry fee per vehicle unless someone in the vehicle possesses an NPS annual pass, golden eagle pass, etc. Explore the interactive map below to see the region boundary (red), trails (blue), trailheads (hiker icons), and points of interest (birdwatcher icons). Below the map is a suggested itinerary.
County Line Lagoons (0.5 mile hike)
From the main entrance pay station for Bandelier National Monument, drive down the entrance road for two miles to a small pull-out and gate on your left; park here. Hike the dirt road beyond the gate for 0.2 miles to the fence for the County Line Lagoons. Scan the three visible ponds.
Frijoles Falls Trail (3 mile hike)
Continue down the entrance road to its end at the visitor’s center; park here. Bird the trees near the parking lot. Cross the bridge at the south end of the parking lot and follow the trail downstream from here. The trail continues for 1.5 miles to the Upper Frijoles Falls overlook.
Juniper Campground (0.5 mile hike)
Drive back up out of the canyon towards the main park entrance. Just before the pay station, take the road to your left heading towards Juniper Campground. Follow this road for 0.3 miles until you see a large parking lot on the left. Park at the far (west) end of this lot. Walk the access road to the “coyote loop” of the campground, and all the way around the actual loop portion of the road. When the road has looped back on itself, look for a gravel path near to the intersection that parallels the access road and heads to the amphitheatre. Bird the amphitheater and then continue on the gravel path back to the parking lot at the Frey Trail trailhead.
Maintenance Lagoons (1.3 mile hike)
From the Frey Trail trailhead, follow the Frey Trail for 0.5 miles until it reaches an asphalt road. Turn right onto this road and follow it to the Bandelier maintenance facility. At the far end of the maintenance facility, look through the fence at the two ponds. At least one person on the team must have official permission from Bandelier to be here, otherwise skip this location.
Tyuonyi Overlook Trail (1.2 – 2.2 mile hike)
From the Juniper Campground amphitheater, find the Tyuonyi Overlook trail heading south. Follow this loop for 1.2 miles (with an optional 0.5 mile spur to the overlook itself).
Burnt Mesa Trail (5 mile hike)
Leave Bandelier and turn left onto State Road 4. Follow the highway for 4 miles until you reach the Burnt Mesa trailhead pullout on the left; park here. Follow the trail for 2.5 miles to its terminus, then return on the same trail.
Ponderosa Trail (3 mile hike)
Continue west on NM 4 to Ponderosa Campground, just before the intersection with NM 501 (the LANL “back gate”). Park at the campground. Find the trailhead for the Ponderosa Trail and follow it for 1.5 miles to the point where it begins to switchback down into Frijoles Canyon. Return on the same trail.
Still up for more hiking and have some daylight to burn? Return to the Bandelier visitor’s center and hike up-stream in Frijoles Canyon for as long as you feel like it.
BEAST MODE: Frijoles Canyon Through-Trip (8 mile hike)
If you have a team of strong hikers, consider leaving a car at the Bandelier Visitor’s Center, then driving up to Ponderosa Campground and hiking the Ponderosa Trail down into Frijoles Canyon, then following the bottom of the canyon downstream all the way back to the Visitor’s Center. The first section of this hike (the Ponderosa Trail) is in dense ponderosa forest and is excellent for owls pre-dawn. The next five miles along the bottom of Frijoles is part of the seldom-visited backcountry of Bandelier and offers an essentially untouched canyon bottom habitat–keep an eye (and ear) out for stub-tailed wrens. Note that portions of this trail have been known to wash out in storms, so be prepared for crossing (or sometimes walking in) the stream bed–waterproof boots highly recommended!