Main Loop Nature Trail
ElevationAscent: 222' 68 m
Descent: -223' -68 m
High: 6,216' 1,895 m
Low: 6,078' 1,853 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 24% (14°)
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“A great short loop highlighting the main cliff dwellings and kivas of Bandelier.”— Karl W
After passing through Tyuonyi, the loop curves east into a nook in the cliff side. This area has some of the most interesting cliff dwellings in the park. Although the trail is still paved or made from large flat rocks, there are sections of it that are made of stairs, so anyone with limited mobility may have to turn around here. You are allowed to go inside some of the cliff dwellings, as some are accessible with ladders. This makes the trail much more interesting than just running along it. Be mindful that you shouldn't just climb around: only go into the dwellings that are specifically open to visitors.
At about 0.5 miles, you'll pass Frey Trail, which leads up the canyon wall. Continue northwest and you'll soon come to the Long House cliff dwellings. Some were built along the base of the cliff and used holes cut into the cliff walls to help support roofs or store supplies. At the end of Long House, the paved and stone sections of the trail end. The trail transitions to smooth packed dirt and heads away from the canyon wall. You'll cross the Frijoles River on a small bridge and then follow the southwestern bank for a quarter mile through tall ponderosa pines that offer nice shade from the heat.
You could continue along the southwestern bank of the Frijoles River to the picnic area, but the main loop trail turns north to cross the river back to the Tyuonyi site. You'll get a different preservative of the site before the trail heads back to the Big Kiva site, and finally back to the visitor center.
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Bandelier National Monument