Bandelier National Monument  

Beyond the visitor center at Bandelier National Monument, and the easily accessible archaeological sites near it, lie 37,000 acres of wilderness. Just about every wild acre contains evidence of prehistoric occupation, but three of the most interesting hiking destinations are the Stone Lions Shrine, the Painted Cave pictograph site, and Yapashi Pueblo. Collectively, these sites date back to about A.D. 1200 when Ancestral Pueblo people occupied the region.


The Stone Lions Shrine consists of two mountain lions carved into
volcanic tuff. In this photo they are facing to the left. They may look
like blobs in this picture but when you're actually at the site and
view them up close, many details become much more clear,
including the lions' heads, hine legs and tails.

The Painted Cave includes a wildly animated
gallery of both historic and prehistoric images.

Due to the extremely poor quality of the above photo, I cropped it down to show only
the pictographs, and cranked the constrast way up in Photoshop. It's still a crummy
image but at least you can kinda sorta see the individual pictographs.
Because this hike is so long, the temptation is to cut down on camera equipment
like, say, your telephoto lens. But if you want good shots, bring it anyway, as
you cannot actually enter the cave, but must shoot from outside and below it.

The walls of Yapashi Pueblo no longer stand very high, but the
site covers a wide area and is liberally sprinkled with potsherds
(the ballcap is for size reference)

The book Ruins Seldom Seen is available from