The Associated Press reports that after being closed for three months after the largest wildfire in the state’s history, the prehistoric American Indian archaeological sites at the heart of Bandelier National Monument in Frijoles Canyon, New Mexico, have been reopened to visitors this past Monday.
The monument’s largest concentration of prehistoric cultural sites survived the initial fire, but were in danger again due to flooding that poured ash, sediment and charred debris into the canyon. Thankfully, the site remained intact and is now open again for the general public.
The timing is very opportune for the park, as fall is one of the busiest times of the year. The upcoming annual balloon fiesta in Albuquerque draws thousands of tourists to the state.
The canyons of Bandelier National Monument contain artifacts and evidence from 10,000 years of human history, starting with the prehistoric American Indians. The Las Conchas fire, which was sparked on June 26 by a tree falling onto a power line, damaged two-thirds of the monument. “Flames raced across mesa tops and down canyons dotted with hundreds of archaeological sites,” the AP reported.
Monument employees went to work saving the prehistoric artifacts, pottery, and artwork by using old uniforms, blankets, and the American flag to wrap the pieces and transport them to safety.
The National Park Service’s site has a list of what’s open right now at Bandelier. It includes the trail at the Tsankawi Section, which contains numerous archaeological sites and petroglyphs, and Burnt Mesa Trail, with its expansive views of the gorgeous canyon.