Hard Work Pays Off On Bandelier’s Frijoles Canyon Trail  

By Chris Judson


Photo NPS

Trail tread before and after rehab

One of Bandelier National Monument’s most scenic and popular trails, the Frijoles Canyon Trail between Upper Crossing and Alcove House, can now be hiked without having to climb over the huge logjams and other barriers caused by the floods following the 2011 Las Conchas Fire.   For several years volunteer crews have been gradually working their way up the canyon, making spaces in the debris piles, removing hundreds of fallen trees, and re-establishing the trail tread.  In places a new trail alignment had to be located and approved.  Then this year, efforts included not only the Bandelier staff and local volunteers, but also the Rocky Mountain and YMCA Youth Corps.  With everyone’s hard work, there is again a real trail for the entire five-mile distance, and the effects of the floods are impressive parts of the landscape rather than obstacles.

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Smoke Rising Over Gilman and Two Other Fires in Santa Fe National Forest

By Julie Anne Overton


Three lightning-caused fires on the Santa Fe National Forest are putting up visible smoke today as crews keep an eye on the Deer Creek, Beaver Creek, and Ojitos Fires.

A lightning strike on Friday started the Deer Creek Fire, estimated at about eight acres, on the Jemez Ranger District next to the site of the Peggy Fire which started on July 18.  As crews monitor the Deer Creek Fire, which is about 2 miles northwest of the Gilman Tunnels, smoke has been reported from US Highway 550 and may impact the Pueblo of Jemez and the communities of Gilman and Cañon.

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New Mexico Culture Squared (NMC2) Presents Los Luceros FREE Harvest Festival

By Mary Ann Hatchitt 

Photo: NM Department of Cultural Affairs. 

Historic Los Luceros.

New Mexico Culture Squared (NMC2), a program of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, will present a Harvest Festival and a free outdoor concert at the Los Luceros Historic Site in Alcalde on Sunday, September 17, 2017 from 9:00AM to 3:00PM.

This FREE event includes a farmers’ market, apple harvest activities, cider-making, tours of the sites, serenaded tours of the orchard, many other family-friendly activities on the stunning Los Luceros Historic Property.  Musical entertainment will be provided Lone Piñon, an acoustic trio from New Mexico whose music celebrates their region’s cultural diversity. www.lonepinon.com/

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News from Deep in the Woods


The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) expects a large number of visitors for the final holiday weekend of the summer season, but please bear in mind that the (SFNF) Supervisor’s Office and all Ranger District offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, in observance of Labor Day.  Normal business hours will resume on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

This, and other Forest news:

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See the Solar Eclipse in the Valles Caldera Tomorrow


The Great American Eclipse is coming, and everyone is invited to the Valles Caldera National Preserve to watch it.

Join rangers to witness and learn more about this spectacular natural event, free of charge, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 at the Valle Grande Entrance Station on N.M. 4. The maximum partial eclipse will be reached at approximately 11:45 a.m. MDT, Monday.
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Bandelier Honors Youth Work Crews

By Chris Judson


NPS Photo

Members of the 2017 Bandelier Conservation Corps, Bandelier Preservation Corps, and the Abiquiu-Ghost Ranch Crew.

Recently, a graduation ceremony at Bandelier National Monument honored three youth crews organized through the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for their ten weeks of summer work.  The Bandelier Conservation Corps worked on trails in the park, the Bandelier Preservation Corps stabilized ancient stone walls in the archeological sites in Frijoles Canyon, and the Abiquiu-Ghost Ranch Crew did trail building and improvement near Abiquiu Lake and at Ghost Ranch.  All three crews worked hard outdoors, learning to use hand tools, assessing the best approaches for needed work, and perhaps most importantly, working together with other crew members and supervisors.

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Are You a Stone Monkey?

By Sandra West


 Join Forest Altherr for a presentation about his climbing experiences in Yosemite.

At the Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 22 Forest Altherr will talk about his rock climbing experiences in Yosemite. The presentation will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Los Alamos Nature Center. The Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting will start at 7 p.m. and cover information about upcoming outings.
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Restoration and Replacement Projects in Frijoles Canyon

By Chris Judson


NPS Photo 

These ladders leading to Alcove House are among the ones that will be replaced. 


For anyone who has ever wondered if the ladders leading up the cliffs in Bandelier National Monument are replaced regularly, the answer is yes.  And the proof will be easily seen this fall, when the park maintenance and preservation crews will replace the long ladders leading up to Alcove House, as well as the shorter ones that provide access to the smaller caves in the cliffs. As might be expected, that means that the ladders will occasionally be closed during the work.

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A Little Hiccup (Note from the Editor, R.W.)

I am currently enjoying a brief respite from being “connected” to the world, and apologize to anyone who needed information that I am in the habit of posting. I will now continue to blunder around in the wilds of the American Southwest, perhaps sneaking in a few photo essays and odd bits of notices sent to me  at wired moments over the next few days.

Opera at Bandelier

By Joanie Budzileni


Graphic: Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera

Live long and prosper!  For the 6th year, The Los Alamos Opera Guild of The Guilds of The Santa Fe Opera, Inc. is presenting Opera on the Rocks at Bandelier National Monument on Saturday, September 30, 2017, National Public Lands Day. This year features scenes from Mozart’s comic opera The Abduction from the Seraglio with a new adaptation that moves it into the future to a universe that looks a lot like Star Trek.

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National Parks Senior Pass Prices Increase


It’s official, Senior Pass prices are going up August 28th. An annual, and lifetime pass with be available for $20 and $80 respectively.

On August 28, 2017, the price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass will increase for the first time since 1994. The additional revenue will be used to enhance the visitor experience in parks. Learn more about the changes, what they mean for you, and how the additional funds will be used.

Why is the price of the Senior Pass increasing?

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Off-Road Vehicles Will be Impounded if Found Riding Within Designated Wilderness Areas.


Call them what you will – four-wheelers, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or utility vehicles (UTVs) – but remember that off-road vehicles of any kind are always prohibited within congressionally designated wilderness areas.

This past weekend, ATV tracks were observed within the San Pedro Parks Wilderness on the Coyote Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF).   San Pedro Parks is one of the original wilderness areas created by the Wilderness Act of 1964, which set aside “primeval” federal land to be managed as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

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Street Music

Photos R.W.

No hail bouncing of red rocks today, so here are some images of street musicians bouncing of the sidewalks of cities in East Central Europe instead. These shots were taken late March, early April in Prague, Gdańsk and Warsaw.

Lady in red hat ignores paper cup in back alley in Prague.

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Los Amigos de Valles Caldera Make a Date Change

Los Amigos in action.

Due to complications from the Cajete Fire, Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, Valles Caldera National Preserve’s industrious friends group, will be celebrating their 10th anniversary and the grand opening of the preserve bookstore on July 22nd during our 17th Preserve Birthday Bash! Between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, enjoy music, refreshments, artist demonstrations, facepainting, visiting wildlife from the New Mexico Wildlife Center, a 10% discount at the bookstore, souvenirs, and a drawing. A ribbon cutting will be held at the new bookstore at noon.

For additional information about this event and the Preserve Birthday Bash, check out our events calendar, https://www.nps.gov/vall/planyourvisit/calendar.htm. See you at the party!


Cajete Fire Burn Area Closed to the Public until July 31

The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) today issued a closure order for the approximately 1,400 acres on the Jemez Ranger District burned by the Cajete Fire.  The restricted area includes:

  • all lands, roads and trails within the fire perimeter (depicted on the closure map),
  • Trail #137 between the last bridge coming from the Las Conchas Trailhead (before the trail ascends) and the East Fork Trailhead, and
  • segments of Forest Road (FR) 270 south of the fire and FR 4G, 4GA and 4GB on the northwestern point of the burned area.

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More Abandoned Campfires in Santa Fe National Forest

There will be another community meeting tonight at 6 p.m. June 18, 2017 at the Jemez Mountain Baptist Church, 6 Riverview Court, La Cueva, NM. to give the community latest information on the El Cajete Fire.

It has been determined the fire was started by an abandoned campfire. The carelessness of these campers has disrupted peoples’ lives, cost the taxpayer millions of dollars and endangered the lives of hundreds of firefighters. Three more abandoned campfires that needed the attention of fire crews in the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) were reported on the New Mexico Fire Information site. This is happening as smoke billows over the mountains and over 300 firefighters battle the nearby 1.367 El Cajete blaze.

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Dogs Welcome on Santa Fe NF, But Owners Have Responsibilities

By Julie Anne Overton


Last week, a visitor to the Santa Fe National Forest was resting on a rock by the trail after hiking up Tesuque Peak Road from the Aspen Vista Picnic Site.  His idyllic afternoon took a turn for the worse when an 80-pound pit bull – running free – charged him with teeth bared.  The hiker had the wherewithal to thrust his walking stick between his face and the dog’s jaws.  Then the dog took another try, knocking the 74-year-old 150-pound man off the rock.

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Blowdowns and Deadfall Hazards on Trails in Santa Fe National Forest

By Julie Anne Overton



As peak recreation season gets underway on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF), hikers, cyclists, equestrians and other trail users should be prepared for the possibility of fallen trees and tangled brush impeding their way.

As recent reports of a blowdown in the Pecos Wilderness make clear, it’s not uncommon for weather, winds and other natural events to bring trees down over the winter.  Forest Service staff and volunteers are getting out into the field and reporting back on what they find, which seems – at least anecdotally – to be worse than usual.

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Watch Archaeologists Hand Excavate Kuaua Pueblo Site

By Jennifer Padilla

Photo Alex Cedillos. Kiva ladder at Coronado Historic Site.

The live dig started yesterday and will continue until Sept. 30, 2017.


New Mexicans have a rare opportunity to watch archaeologists on a live dig at the Coronado Historic Site off U.S. 550 in Bernalillo. The Dig Kuaua! handexcavation of the Kuaua Pueblo will be performed by the Office of Archaeological Studies from May 15 through June 30, 2017. Members of the Friends of Coronado Historic Site group can even participate alongside the archaeologists.

“This dig has the potential of yielding hundreds if not thousands of artifacts,” said Matthew J. Barbour, Regional Manager, Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites. “The hand-excavation will focus test units throughout Kuaua Pueblo and the surrounding refuse piles called ‘middens.’ Architecture dating to the 1500s will also be unearthed.”

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Travelers from Jemez Get Easy Access Bandelier Shuttle

By Chris Judson


Photo NPS.

It’s been a busy Spring at Bandelier National Monument.  There have been many days when it was very noticeable that there’s just not enough parking in Frijoles Canyon near the Visitor Center,  and visitors and rangers alike wished the shuttles were running.  Now the waiting is over – the shuttles will start back up this Sunday, May 14.  On the same day, the Bandelier Visitor Center hours will lengthen to 9 AM – 6 PM, and the Los Alamos County White Rock Visitor Center hours to 8 AM – 6 PM.

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Bears Beware, Marathon Returns to Bear Country

By R.W.

A bear.

(Please note comment at end of article)

Around this time last year a marathon pounding through bear country during cub season, caught national attention when a runner was mauled by a bear in the course of the race.  The incident occurred when the runner ran between a mother bear and her cubs. The cubs scampered up a tree, the bear rushed in defense of her cubs biting and clawing at the runner, who took good precaution to protect herself and survived with minor injuries.Continue reading

Forest Service Offers On Site Demonstrations to Explain Treatments to Restore Forest Health

By Julie Anne Overton



Members of the public are invited to join Forest Service specialists on a field trip to the La Jara Phase III project area on Friday, May 5, 2017, to learn about planned treatments to restore forest health and protect the La Jara watershed from catastrophic wildfire.

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A Visit to the Tunnels



I can see that the notice of the closure of the Gilman Tunnels has produced quite a strong response from people. A site so familiar, so often visited, and a route to so much beyond has been snatched from us for a long spell. So to wipe a few tears, here’s a video posted on the Sandoval County site that takes us through those holes in granite in an unfamiliar way. The authors present themselves as Drone UP North, but I am not familiar with their names.

As an aside, fun though this video is, I would not be happy to be driving through the tunnels at the same time that this thing appeared, buzzing just below the roof.

If you enter Drone UP North’s video pages, there is more interesting drone footage to watch there.


Enjoy National Park Week at Bandelier and Throughout the National Park System

By Chris Judson


All across the country, National Park Service units will be celebrating National Park Week from April 15-23. For parks that charge entrance fees, including Bandelier National Monument, both weekends, April 15-16 and April 22-23, will be fee free days, with no entry fees being charged.

During both weekends, everything in the bookstore in the Bandelier Visitor Center will be discounted 15%, and select items in the Gift Shop and Snack Bar will be on sale.

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Second Notice: Volunteers Still Needed for Rio Guadalupe Annual Cleanup

By Ron Loehman

Conservation Chairman, NEW MEXICO TROUT

We can use a few more volunteers for our annual cleanup of the Rio Guadalupe along FR 376.  Please come and help out.
We will meet at 9 a.m. at the informal parking area at the locked  Forest Service gate above the Gilman Tunnels on Forest Road 376 (directions below). With sufficient volunteers we will be finished by early afternoon.