Hiking the Tsankawi Trail in Bandelier National Monument is truly a unique trek. It is located in the high desert of New Mexico near the city of Los Alamos in the Tsankawi section of the park. This is a less traveled area than the more famous section of the park proper and it made for an interesting, unexpected side trip.
Part of the appeal of this area of the park, to be honest, is that there are far fewer people here. This means that you can really take your time exploring this relatively short 1.5 mile hiking trail. Not long after you leave the trailhead, you get to climb a wooden ladder (fun) to get up onto a ridge that leads you to the Ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi. There isn’t much left of the village itself but the area is littered with pottery shards, one of the very few places left where you can actually touch history. The pieces are small but you can clearly see the colored lines that were painted onto the pots.
After leaving the pottery shards of the village behind, it was onto some of the most unique aspects of any hike anywhere in the world. The Ancestral Pueblo villagers walked the same paths so often that they ended up wearing out the rocks to the point where it looks like a bobsled course winding its way through an Olympic venue. I can’t describe how totally awestruck I was by this and by the fact that the National Park Service still allows people to hike on it (thank you NPS).
I’m just going to keep the words at a minimum here and let all of the photographs speak. If you’re ever in Northern New Mexico and want a truly unique hike, without many people, some Native American history, and stunning high desert scenery, check this place out. It is such an interesting, and very easy walk.
If you’re looking for a great place to eat après hike, Tomasitas in Santa Fe is the perfect locale to refuel. The food is consistently outstanding and the location at the Railyard District is just minutes away from the famous plaza. Try the roast beef burrito and be sure to eat the sopapillas with honey butter. After that, consider finishing off the evening with a cold one at the Second Street Brewery, just right around the corner.