GPO Summer Travel Series: Bandelier National Monument

River-carved valley landscape, Bandelier National Monument. NPS.

Welcome back, summer travelers. If historic caves, petroglyphs, and ceremonial grounds inspire you, get excited. Thousands of years ago, in what is now modern-day New Mexico, Ancestral Pueblo people built homes carved from volcanic tuff. Today, the National Park Service protects the structures and cultural architecture at this next destination. So, what are you waiting for? Mentally prepare to climb lots of ladders, and let’s pay tribute to the place that preserves ancient Ancestral Pueblo dwellings—Bandelier National Monument!

With activities for kids from first grade to seventh grade, Bandelier National Monument Junior/Deputy Ranger Booklet is just what you need to make sure your trip to this National Monument is an educational adventure. First things, first! Together, let’s learn to respect and protect the park with a fill-in-the-blank challenge. Little Junior Rangers will be challenged to cross off things they see at the park – like cliff dwellings, the village, and ladders. To spot some of the ladders, we’ll head to the Alcove House. A series of four ladders and stone stairs make up the 140-foot climb to get to the house. Archeologists believe this house was once home to about 25 people. Another trail with ladders will lead to the Ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi. Here you’ll find distinct paths that the Ancestral Pueblo people themselves used – and experience the views of the mesa as they did thousands of years ago. Did you know human presence in the area goes back over 11,000 years?

Next, Junior Rangers will be challenged to interview a Ranger at the park. And once they climb the ladder into a Cavate Home, readers will be challenged to decide the best spot in the home to build a fire, store food, and sleep. Now, we’re going to take a stab at being an archeologist! Junior Rangers will look at structures, such as Big Kava and Tyuonyi ruins, from Ancestral Pueblo times, and think about what questions they would need to ask about each of the structures to determine their uses. Remember, the Ancestral Pueblo people lived here from about 1150 CE to 1550 CE, so they didn’t have the convenience of modern technology like we do today.

Another neat thing to check out at Bandelier? The Long House! These cliff dwellings were three to four stories tall. Here, you’ll see hundreds of petroglyphs, or carved drawings. Painted Cave, which can be accessed from the Bandelier Visitor Center or the Dome Trailhead, is a great place to observe even more of these illustrations.

In a valuable lesson about protecting species, the National Park Service booklet discusses animals that used to live amongst the Ancestral Pueblo people but can no longer be found in the park today. The booklet asks children which species they believe could be reintroduced to the park, as well as what they can do to help keep other species from disappearing from their original habitat.

We’re impressed with how much you were able to see at the park! Now that we have finished exploring for today, let’s head back to the visitor center and give the booklet to a Ranger to complete your challenge.

Awesome work. We hope you enjoyed getting a taste of life as an Ancestral Pueblo person as well as learning about the importance of protecting and respecting places we visit, especially ones with rich culture and relics that we want to keep safe. Summer is just getting started, and so are we. We can’t wait to take you to our next destination. Keep following along!

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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

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