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Bandelier: Holidays, Winter Solstice, Fee Free Days

on December 15, 2017 - 9:28am
Cliffs and historic structures in Frijoles Canyon with the first snowfall of 2017. Courtesy/NPS
With the holidays and 2018 approaching, Bandelier National Monument is offering news on upcoming events, both this year and next.
First on the list is Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, shortest day of the year and the point on the calendar when the days begin to lengthen again. Many peoples all over the world recognized the solstices and built markers into structures or found them in the surrounding landscape. The Ancestral Pueblo people in Frijoles Canyon may have built parts of Tyuonyi, the large pueblo on the canyon bottom, in alignment with the sunrise and sunset on the Winter Solstice. Ranger walks will be offered that day to greet the sunrise and sunset and see the possible alignments. 
The Sunrise Walk meets at 7:15 a.m. in front of the Visitor Center, and the Sunset Walk meets at 1:30 p.m. there. The times are a reminder that sunrise and sunset happen at different times in the bottom of the 400-foot-deep canyon than they do in the wide open landscapes on the mesa tops. No signups are required for these walks, but participants should be sure to dress warmly. If the sky is overcast, the walks will be held the following day.
Weather permitting, Bandelier will be open every day through the holidays, and almost certainly there will be many visitors coming to walk the trails and enjoy the sights. As Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott said, "If the days are mild and sunny that last week of December, we expect lots of visitors. People have family visiting and they all want to get out of the house, and people who are here from other parts of the country want to enjoy the park's unique charms. We ask everyone to stay on the trails and take good care of this fragile place that belongs to all of us." 
The Visitor Center, book store and administrative offices in Frijoles Canyon will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, and the snack bar is closed until March.
Looking ahead to the new year, the National Park Service (NPS) has announced that there will be four days in 2018 when NPS sites nationwide will not charge entrance fees. Those days are Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day; April 21, the first day of National Park Week; Sept. 22, National Public Lands Day and Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
For more information on these events or Bandelier itself, contact the park Visitor Center at 505.672.3861x517, check the website at, or keep watch on the Facebook page or Twitter, each at BandelierNPS.