Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alcove House Trail at Bandelier

The trail to Alcove House is a 1 mile round trip side trail off of the Main Loop Trail at Bandelier National Monument in northwest New Mexico. Most visitors to Alcove House will hike the Main Loop Interpretive segment first.

The total hiking distance for the Main Loop and the side trail to Alcove House is about 2.2 miles. The hiking challenge of the Alcove House trail is the four ladders that climb 140 feet up to the alcove.

The trail to base of the cliffs meanders along Frijoles Creek under the shade of Ponderosa Pines.  A small interpretive sign before the climb mentions that this site had 22 or 23 rooms and a kiva, and was originally known as Ceremonial Cave.

The site was occupied from 1250 to 1600 AD. The kiva was reconstructed by Archaeologist Jess Nusbaum in 1910. Nusbaum is also known as one of the early Superintendants of Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado.

The reconstructed Kiva area has dramatic views further up Frijoles Canyon. In the alcove walls the holes where the roof beams of the constructed rooms were secured are visible.
 There is a ladder installed and visitors can descend into the kiva.

My total hike on the Main Loop Trail and the Alcove House side trail took 1:50 hours. I hiked on a pleasant 65 F degree early April day.

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