December 5, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Late Fall in Bandelier

'Only a week ago I was wearing flip-flops and today that seems unbelievable.'

By Karen Denison

At Home Outdoors

Karen Denison is owner of Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing guide service, a former biologist, and a shameless admirer of the outdoors.

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There's rain in Santa Fe this November morning with snow falling on the mountain.  We're in that lull period between seasons.  Do I get out the winter clothing?  Do I put away the summer gear?  Only a week ago I was wearing flip-flops and today that seems unbelievable.
 
Yet there is a sort of desolate beauty to the landscape now after the leaves have fallen and before the snow dusts the lower elevations.  The tourists have largely gone from places like Bandelier National Monument and a sunny day is the perfect time to explore more of this great place.
 
For many folks, Bandelier means the visitors' center and ruins in Frijoles Canyon.  Period.  But the Monument covers over 33,000 acres, most of which is traveled via single-track trails.
 
There are some accesses which require little or no climb (you begin and end at the mesa tops) like Burnt Mesa Trail or Tyuonyi Overlook Trail; and some that require a moderate climb like Frijolito Loop, Burro Trail or Tsankawi.  With the exception of the short Tsankawi loop, all of these trails can be relatively short out-and-back excursions.
 
Check the Bandelier website for regulations and more description, get your map, and as always take lots of water.  Big views, long history, and much elbow room--what more could you want on that sunny late fall day?
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