“A mesa-top trail with signs of ancient inhabitants everywhere you look.
— Jake Holgerson
All National Park annual or lifetime passes gain entry without paying any further fees. Be sure to make the pass or fee receipt visible in your vehicle before heading out on the trail.
Closures correspond with Bandelier National Monument main trails. Check the park's website
. for more details. Please do not take any artifacts, rocks, plants, or animals found on the trail.
Take heed of the pathways carved into the rock on the back half of the trail. They resemble parallel trenches and can be two to three feet deep for several hundred yards.
The Tswankawi Ruins Trail is a satellite portion to Bandelier National Monument. Entrance fees can be purchased at the trailhead or at the Bandelier Visitor Center located in Frijoles Canyon, 14 miles away.
A trail guide can be obtained at the trailhead, giving a wealth of information to your journey and directing you as to the best route to take. After a short trip through a juniper-pinon forest, take a ladder up the side of the mesa. There is the option to take an ancient stone staircase or another ladder brings you to the top of the mesa. The trail continues to weave through the juniper-pinon, revealing scenic views of the surrounding canyons, until you reach the un-excavated Tswankawi Pueblo.
Archeologists still study the ruins, so take care of the ancient walls and leave any pottery sherds or obsidian where they lay. Climb down one more ladder and pass some remarkable cavates (often known as cliff dwellings). The footsteps of the Ancestral Puebloeans and modern-day visitors have carved trenches in the soft rock creating unique walkways, some as deep as two to three feet. The final leg of the trail provides petroglyphs hidden everywhere before it leads to a narrow stone walkway back to the trailhead.