Hike at Tsankawi

Tsankawi Trailhead

Distance

1.5 Miles

Elevation Gain

361 Feet

Activities

Photography, Hiking

Skill

Beginner

Season

Year Round

Type

Loop

Easy Parking
Scenic
Wildflowers

Tsankawi is an easy hike with great rewards, including incredible views and a chance to explore the cave dwellings, petroglyphs, and foot paths made by the Ancestral Pueblo people who called the area home.

Tsankawi is a great option for a shorter adventure and is one of the many wonderful areas of Bandelier National Monument. From the parking lot, the trail briefly descends towards a self-service kiosk where you can purchase your permit and pick up a trail guide.

Once your permit is displayed in your car, head back past the kiosk and the trail will head uphill. You'll soon come across your first ladder of the trail, climbing to a large open area where the trail continues along a rock ledge. As you hike, you'll be stepping the foot paths carved into the soft tuff rock over five hundred years ago by the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here.

When you reach your next ladder, climb up and find yourself on the mesa top with awesome views all around. As you hike along the mesa you will be in the middle of what was once Tsankawi village. Not many remnants of the village remain today, but if you look closely you will see stones laid as foundation of dwellings and often pottery shards, as well. Please respect this area and do not take out anything you did not bring in.

Upon reaching the end of the mesa, you'll come across a longer ladder that will bring you down to the cavates, or cave dwellings, that were inhabited from the 12th to 16th century. Step inside them and have a seat for a while - they're a great spot to cool down on a hot day or just to look out at the view and think about what living here would have been like. From here, find footsteps carved into the stone to follow the trail out from the cavates and continue your loop.

On the way back, keep your eyes peeled for petroglyphs on the rock walls to your right. The loop ends where you ascended the second ladder to the mesa top, from here take the same path out that you took in.

If you're heading towards Los Alamos afterwards, be sure to stop by Bathtub Row Brewing Co-op for a tasty local brew. You can also use the permit you got here to explore other areas of Bandelier National Monument!

Getting there: Tsankawi is an annex of Bandelier National Monument, located a quarter mile from the junction of Highways 4 and 502 about 12 miles from the main part of the park. It is not well signed, but look for a gravel parking area on the east side of 4. If you're coming from 502 and hit the stoplight at E Jemez Rd., you've gone too far.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Beautiful little hike

I've been coming here since I was a child and it's still a favorite spot. The views from the mesa are lovely and sitting in a cavate looking up at the soot-covered ceilings from fires made hundreds and hundreds of years ago is a really awesome experience.

Distance

1.5 Miles

Elevation Gain

361 Feet

Activities

Photography, Hiking

Skill

Beginner

Season

Year Round

Type

Loop

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike to the Upper Falls in Bandelier National Monument

Adventure

Hike the Main Loop Trail at Bandelier National Monument

Adventure

Hike to Alcove House

Adventure

Hike at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

More Nearby Adventures

Related Stories

destinations

A Magical Yosemite Valley Winter Storm

A Yosemite Winter Wonderland

gear

La Sportiva Women's Skwama Climbing Shoe Review

Super sticky, super responsive, and just as badass as the men’s version of the shoe.

travel

A Few Days in Rossland, BC - A Must-Stop on the Powder Highway

If this town of less than 4,000 friendly folks doesn’t charm your socks off, the terrain at RED M...

destinations

WATCH: A Way of Life Under Attack - 'Welcome to Gwichyaa Zhee'

All over this country, indigenous people are literally just fighting for their identity.

More Stories