|This trail is different from many at Bandelier National Monument. Take this trail for plants, animals, and geologic scenery, including the namesake falls. You get a view down to the Rio Grande, but you can no longer get there after the flood in August, 2011 destroyed parts of the trail.|
|Hike data||Waypoints||Maps||Getting to the trailhead||About the hike||Plants along the trail||Comments|
When we hiked it:
|Time it took us:||3:07. We went a little faster than our normal (slow) rate to make it back to the bus.|
|Cleanliness:||10. No litter along the trail.|
|FallsTH||Trailhead||Bandelier National Monument Falls Trail trailhead|
|Falls View||Trail point||End of the trail where you can see the upper falls|
|Map name||Cartographer||Year||Scale||Topo map?||Online access||Notes|
|Albuquerque New Mexico||USGS||1983||1:100000||Y||from sar.lanl.gov (free)|
|Bandelier National Monument||National Geographic Trails Illustrated||2000||1:28600||Y||from Amazon (purchase)|
|Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah||Automobile Club of Southern California||1998||1:0||N||from Amazon (purchase)||Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.|
|Los Alamos||BLM||2003||1:100000||Y||from Amazon (purchase)|
|Santa Fe National Forest||US Forest Service||2004||1:126720||N||from Amazon (purchase)||West half|
|Wildernesses of New Mexico||US Forest Service||1981||1:1000000||N||No online copies.||Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.|
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Getting to the trailhead:
Late spring through early fall, you must park in White Rock and take a shuttle to the park unless you are camping or handicapped. Check the Bandelier National Monument web site to see if off-site parking is required. To get to the parking in White Rock, take NM 4 and the parking area is on the north side of the highway. Look for the signs between the two stoplights. You can pay your entrance fee at a kiosk here. Doing so will save you time when you arrive at the park. You can click on the map to see the full size version. Map from the Bandelier National Monument web page.
When the shuttle bus is not required, from Santa Fe, take Saint Francis Drive (HWY 84/285) north toward Los Alamos. After passing Pojoaque, merge right onto New Mexico 502 to Los Alamos. Continue up 502 toward Los Alamos. Bear right and exit onto New Mexico 4 towards White Rock. Continue for 12 miles, passing White Rock. The entrance will be on your left. You will need to stop and pay your entrance fee before continuing.
No matter which way you took to get the the visitor's center, head east from the visitor center to the southeast end of the parking lot.
About the hike:
Shortly after leaving the trailhead, you reach this information sign that describes the 2011 flood that destroyed the lower part of the trail. Whe we were there, there was a sun dog visible. It was preceding the arrival of a storm the next day.
The trail is easy to follow and well-maintained.
Along the way, you can see flood derbis, such as this large pile near the trail.
You have to cross the Rio Frijoles twice. The bridges are not very substantial; they expect more floods to destroy them.
Along the way, keep your eyes open for wildflowers such as these paintbrush.
We also saw this claret cup cactus blooming.
After about 1.5 miles of hiking, you get to the destination, the view of the falls. The flood dramatically reshaped the area at the bottom of the falls. After viewing the falls, return to the visitor's center via the trail you took to get here. Remember when the last bus leaves if you have to catch it.
As you walk back (or down), keep your eyes open for tent rocks such as these.
Plants we saw along the trail:
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