1.14 million years ago, the Valles Caldera exploded covering the area in volcanic ash [Bandelier tuff]. The volcanic overflow varied in hardness: the firmer materials would be used by the native people for bricks the softer material along canyon walls would be excavated and used for shelter.
The rich soil and near by river also made it perfect for agriculture. The area is green and lush at times, rocky in others.
This area is now known as Bandelier National Monument.
[Don't forget to click on the images to view them full size and see the great detail!!]
This is such a gorgeous area. The valley floor is filled with trees and creeks and wildlife like elk, deer, bears and wildcats.
Along the valley walls are caves and alcoves used by the ancient pueblo people for shelter.
The parks elevation reaches about 10,000 feet, just over 5,000 feet at the valley floor so expect to be winded if you are not a regular hiker or from lower elevations.
This is the Tyunoyi Pueblo at the base of the canyon and was built and occupied from about 1150 - 1600 AD.
The trail is well paved but does have some inclines as you approach the caves and alcoves. I highly suggest you have water with you especially if you plan on climbing into the caves which are accessable by ladder.