Main Ruins Loop Trail - Cave Dwellings and Long House, Photo Gallery, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
Main Ruins Loop Trail - Cave Dwellings and Long House
Bandelier National Monument
Simply put, the Main Ruins Loop Trail epitomizes Bandelier National Monument. Showcasing some of the country's most unique Ancestral Pueblo ruins, this loop trail is the most popular destination in Bandelier. Few places afford the opportunity to explore ancient cave dwellings which take you back thousands of years into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people. This is an interpretive trail with 21 individual markers along the trail. An interpretive guide for the 21 markers is available for a small fee at the Visitor Center and is highly recommended. This trail guide will provide insight into anthropological, ecological and geological information pertaining to the ruins, as well as flora and fauna.
|Related Trails:||Main Ruins Loop Trail|
Early morning - a view of the northern canyon wall which houses the majority of ruins. In the foreground, some well preserved rock wall ruins remain in tact
A large Kiva just beyond the Main Ruins Loop trailhead. Kivas were used primarily for ceremonial purposes, tribal gatherings and story telling. The roof would have been made of earth and wood with six pillars supporting it. A hole in the roof provided entry with a ladder leading down to the floor
The ruins of the village called 'Tyuonyi'. This pueblo once housed 100 people in over 400 rooms, at least three stories high. A central plaza contained three kivas and acted as the main social area
The first of three accessible cave dwellings. A ladder provides entry into a cave inhabited over 600 years ago by Ancestral Pueblo people. Soot can stil be spotted on the roof of the cave
View from inside the first cave, looking out at the valley floor. 600 years ago, this cave would have been part of the inside of a larger, multi-story dwelling, like the Talus House below
The 'Talus House', a reconstructed Ancestral Pueblo dwelling. Often multiple stories in height, the dwellings used the natural caves in the canyon wall to extend the inside of the their houses
Another view of the Talus House, an excellent example of Ancestral Pueblo architecture
The second accessible cave
The second accessible area is a complex of multiple cave dwellings with room for several people
The approach to the third and final accessible cave along the Main Ruins Loop Trail
The entrance to the third and final accessible cave. Notice the window carved out of the rock by the ancient inhabitants
The inside of the third cave. This cave was used by Ancestral Pueblo women to weave blankets and clothing. The holes on the floor were used to keep the looming machines in place. This is the largest of the three accessible cave areas, with someone easily able to stand up straight
'Long House' - a line of row housing that was several stories in height. The rock walls still stand and 'vigas' are present. Vigas refer to the lines of small holes in the canyon wall. They were man-made and were created to hold the logs which supported the roof. Counting lines of vigas will tell you how many stories were in a structure. In this photo, you can see that these ancient houses were three stories high.
Notice how the ancients used the natural caves in the canyon to complement their own architecture. The dark roof of the cave in this photo indicates soot from repeated ancient fires built in this same place.
These caves were scientifically dubbed 'cavates' by early archeologist Edgar Lee Hewitt. Notice the viga holes, which delineate the roof lines of a structure.
As an example of Viga holes - the wood loogs sticking out of the roof of this Talus House are being held in place on the other end by viga holes dug into the canyon wall