“A 13 mile out-and-back that traverses deep canyons, high desert mesas, and ancient ruins.”
— Michael Wheat
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Dogs and bikes are not allowed on the back country trails within Bandelier National Monument.
This out and back route to the Yapashi Pueblo is strenuous, but also worthwhile. Runners will have the opportunity to weave through canyons, cross arroyos, and visit historic ruins at the end. Shade and water will be limited, but that adds to the feeling of adventure that makes this route so great.
For more information, visit the park's website
Need to Know
Entrance fee to Bandelier is required. Currently the fee is $20 per car, and is good for 7 days. For more info, click here
Shade is sporadic and water is scarce from late spring to early fall. Always run with the expectation that water will not be accessible.
This trail is ideal in spring and fall. Summer temperatures can reach dangerous levels. Always use caution during thunder storms, the mesas are exposed and canyon crossings are narrow and prone to flash flooding.
If the creek in Alamo canyon is running it is impossible to cross without getting your feet wet.
While this route is scenic and enjoyable, it's not for the faint of heart! The route has approximately 3,000 feet of elevation gain, and it moves through the desert, which adds to the strenuous nature of the route.
Once you have the proper permitting, begin this route on the Frijoles Rim Trail
. This first portion will be a bit more gradual, so use this gentle first mile as a warm up. After about 1.25 miles, you'll want to keep a look out for the Mid Alamo Trail
, which will be on your left.
Once you've branched onto the Mid Alamo Trail
, the terrain will continue to be rolling. About 3.5 miles into your journey, the trail will drop steeply away into Mid Alamo Canyon. This portion is quite strenuous and parts can be difficult. The trail at times is difficult to see, and you'll want to keep an eye out for rock cairns that mark the way. Once you make your way down into the canyon, you'll need to climb back out of it as well, so make sure that you conserve a bit of energy for the ascent!
Shortly after you've crested the ridge out of the canyon, you'll come to another junction where the Mid Alamo Trail
meets up with the West Alamo Rim Trail
. You'll make the turn onto the West Alamo Rim Trail
, which will take you on the final push to the Yapashi Pueblo.
Once you reach this destination, take your time, you've certainly earned it! The scenery is stark and beautiful, and there are many dwellings to admire. Stop to enjoy a drink, and a snack, and take in the incredible history around you.
Once you've had your fill, follow the same route back to the visitor center and your vehicle. The route back will be equally as strenuous, so make sure that you have some gas in the tank to make it back home.
Flora & Fauna
Pine trees, cacti, sage, juniper, deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, big horn.
History & Background