Bandelier National NM, Guadalupe NP and Carlsbad NP Photo Trip Report

Bandelier National NM, Guadalupe NP and Carlsbad NP Photo Trip Report

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Mar 13, 2010
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Winter


This is a brief trip report album to describe our trip on March 13-21 2010 to Bandelier National Monument, Carlsbad National Park and Guadalupe National Park. The idea is to let the photos tell the story.

It was a good trip and we visited some nice ruins, beautiful caves, climbed several peaks and went on several hikes.

Summit shot (TR purposes only)This is the climbing team on the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

March 13: Alcove House [Ceremonial Cave]/Upper Lower Falls [Frijoles Canyon] (New Mexico)

Today Shaylee, Kessler, Kimberly and I stopped at Bandelier National Monument on our way to Carlsbad Caverns. First we hiked the loop to the Ceremonial Cave/Alcove House in Frijoles Canyon. The cliffs of Frijoles Canyon are pock marked with many caves that were used by the ancestral pueblo Indians hundreds (to thousands) of years ago. The kids liked climbing into the caves, but their favorite part was climbing up the long wooden ladders to reach the caves.

In the afternoon we still had time, so we hiked to the waterfalls in lower Frijoles Canyon. It was a great hike and necessary since we had a long car drive ahead of us.

Bandelier National MonumentThese are some of the wierd cliff in Bandelier National Monument. Notice the ancient ruins at the base of the cliff.

Cave housesClimbing into one of the ancient cave houses in Bandelier National Monument.

Route to Ceremonial CaveMe, Shaylee and Kessler on part of the route to Ceremonial Cave in Bandelier National Monument.

Ceremonial CaveClimbing into the ancient Alcove House in Ceremonial Cave.

Route downThis is the route down from Ceremonial Cave.

March 14: Kings Palace/Rattlesnake Canyon (New Mexico)

Today we had a reservation at Carlsbad Caverns for a tour of the King’s Palace. The original plan was to visit the rest of the cave after the King’s Palace, but when we saw the weather forecast we decided to save the rest of the cave for the next day.

The walk through King’s Palace was a good one with lots of fantastic formations, but Kessler missed the wild caves that he is more used to exploring. It was still a fantastic experience.

After walking through the King’s Palace with the ranger we returned to the surface and drove over to Rattlesnake Canyon. We didn’t start our hike until 2:15 PM, but I thought that the kids, wife and I could complete the six mile loop in time to be out of the park by 6:00 PM when the NPS locks the gate. Dropping down into Rattlesnake Canyon was easy, but going up Rattlesnake Canyon to the Guadalupe Ridge was more rugged and slower than I expected. By the time we made it to the Guadalupe Ridge it was obvious that we wouldn’t make it out of the park before the gate was locked. We hurried down the Guadalupe Ridge, but stopped briefly to view two javelinas which were next to the trail. They were just standing there at first, but by the time I got my camera out they skittered away.

We ended up at the NPS gate about 20 minutes after it was locked. I was just going to leave the vehicle there and walk to the campground and pick up the vehicle the next day, but someone else was also locked in and they called the rangers to come and let us out.

King s PalaceThis is part of the King's Palace.

Rattlesnake descentThis is the beginning of the descent into Rattlesnake Canyon.

Rattlesnake CanyonThis is part of our route through Rattlesnake Canyon.

Rattlesnake Canyon to Guadalupe RidgeThis is part of the Rattlesnake Canyon to Guadalupe Ridge Route.

Rattlesnake CanyonThis is part of our route through Rattlesnake Canyon.

Rattlesnake Canyon Rattlesnake Canyon in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

RouteThis is part of our route up Rattlesnake Canyon to reach the Guadalupe Ridge.

Looking down Rattlesnake CanyonLooking down Rattlesnake Canyon from the Guadalupe Ridge.

ChollaA blooming cholla on the Guadalupe Ridge.

March 15: Natural Entrance/Big Room (New Mexico)

Last night was stormy and very windy so we didn’t get much sleep in the tent. It was constantly raining which made it an excellent day to spend underground. We took a shuttle up to Carlsbad Caverns and then walked over to the Natural Entrance before dropping in. We dropped down, down, down into the depths of the cave, taking time to take photos and to look at all the formations. After walking all the way from the Natural Entrance to the bottom of the cave, we took the loop route around the big room which is the biggest underground “room” known in North America.

By the time we exited the cave, it was still raining hard. Hiking underground is the way to go on a cold and rainy day!

Natural EntranceThis is the Natural Entrance of Carlsbad Caverns as seen on March 15 2010.

Big RoomThis is part of the Big Room.

FormationsThese are some of the formations in the Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns on March 14 2010. Kessler Patterson photo.

Beautiful formationsThese are some of the formations in the Big Room.. Kessler Patterson photo.

CarlsbadFormations in the Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns. Kessler Patterson photo.

Cave formationsFormation in the Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns. Kessler Patterson photo.

Monster s mouthThese are some of the formations in the Big Room. The kids thought it looked like a monster's mouth. Kessler Patterson photo.

March 16: El Capitan Trail (Texas)

Today was our first day in Guadalupe National Park, but it was really windy so Kessler, Shaylee, Kimberly and I decided to forego climbing any peaks. Instead we opted for the El Capitan Trail which follows a route from Pine Springs to the base of El Capitan rather than climbing it.

It was windy, but the wind wasn’t extreme so we made our way along the trail to Guadalupe Canyon while taking many photographs of El Capitan along the way. We then descended Guadalupe Canyon a short ways to where the trail climbed up to the base of the big cliffs of El Capitan. After eating lunch we returned to the trailhead. It was a great route even though we didn’t get to climb a peak.

Since there was still time available we also hiked the Pinery Trail before calling it a day.

Clouds, wind and cool weatherOur trip on March 16 to El Capitan started with cloudy skies and very windy conditions. Hunter Peak looms in the clouds in the background.

El CapitanShaylee and Kessler approaching the looming El Capitan.

El Capitan El Capitan, perhaps the most spectacular peak in the Guadalupe Mountains.

El CapitanThis is the towering El Capitan.

Hunter PeakReturning from El Capitan on March 16 2010. The weather has improved and Hunter Peak is clearly visible in the background.

March 17: Guadalupe Peak (Texas)

There wasn’t much wind this morning, so it was time to climb Guadalupe Peak, the highest mountain in Texas! Shaylee, Kessler, Kimberly and I left in the morning and made our way steadily up the peak. About 2/3 of the way up there was quite a bit of snow and ice along the trail. The snowfields near the summit were the hardest part of the climb and I wished I had brought and ice axe or crampons for the peak in order to help the kids up.

After enjoying the summit and chatting with a few fellow climbers we headed down the mountain. All of us had a good time and it was great to climb the mountain in perfect weather.

Starting upWe have just started (March 17 2010) the long climb to the summit of Gualalupe Peak, the highest mountain in Texas. Hunter Peak is in the background.

1/3 of the way upThis is part of the trail 1/3 of the way up Guadalupe Peak.

Cliff sectionThis is what is known as the cliff section of the trail up Guadalupe Peak.

Getting close!Getting close to the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

Icy trailsSome of the sections of the trail up Guadalupe Peak were quite icy and slick. I actually wished I brought an ice axe or crampons to help the others across.

Tejas TrailThis is part of the Tejas Trail as seen on March 17 2010 from Guadalupe Peak. The next day we would use the Tejas Trail to descend Hunter Peak.

Guadalupe PeakThe summit of Guadalupe Peak as seen on March 17 2010.

El CapitanThe "backside" of El Capitan as viewed from near the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

Steepest sectionThis is the steepest section of the Guadalupe Peak climb and is located just below the summit.

SummitThis is the summit of Guadalupe Peak as seen on March 17 2010. There were several other people on the summit since it was spring break for Texas (as well as for us).

Descending Descending Guadalupe Peak on March 17 2010. El Capitan is on the right.

March 18: Hunter Peak (Texas)

We (Shaylee, Kessler, Kim and I) awoke to perfect weather with only a light breeze and clear skies, so it was time to attempt to climb Hunter Peak which is said to have the best views in Texas. We chose to do the loop hike going up Bear Canyon and down the Tejas Trail. Bear Canyon has a nasty reputation as being very steep and difficult and we were a little concerned that it would be challenging for our five year old daughter. We found the trail to be fairly steep, but it wasn’t a problem at all and the rumors of it being difficult were mostly unfounded. It was a slow climb (at least slower than Guadalupe Peak), but we made it up to the summit of Hunter Peak without any problems. The peak did have some grand views and we took a long lunch on the summit.

We returned down the peak via the Bowl and Tejas Trails, but found that we had to cross a fair amount of snow on the rim of The Bowel. After reaching the Tejas Trail it was just a long walk back to the campground. Hunter Peak took us quite a bit longer to climb than Guadalupe did and we got back to camp not that long before sunset.

Hunter Peak via Bear CanyonThis is the lower section of the Bear Canyon Trail which we used to climb Hunter Peak on March 18 2010.

Bear Canyon TrailPart of the rugged Bear Canyon Trail which we used to climb Hunter Peak.

Rock formationsSome of the rock formations seen along the Bear Canyon route to Hunter Peak.

Bear Canyon routeThe upper part of the Bear Canyon route up Hunter Peak.

Guadalupe from HunterGuadalupe Peak as seen from the summit of Hunter Peak.

Summit of Hunter PeakLunch on the summit of Hunter Peak on March 18 2010.

DescentDescending Hunter Peak.

Descending Hunter PeakDescending Hunter Peak.

Sub-hornOne of the sub-horns of Hunter Peak. The lower slopes of Guadalupe Peak are in the background.

Hunter Peak descentDescending Hunter Peak

Hunter PeakHunter Peak, which we just climbed towers in the background.

The love cactus......A double heart prickly pear cactus on Hunter Peak.

Hunter PeakA double heart prickly pear cactus on Hunter Peak.

March 19: McKittrick Canyon (Texas)

Shaylee, Kessler, Kimberly and I awoke to high winds so we headed for McKittrick Canyon. We thought that the wind wouldn’t be as bad in the canyon since it is more heavily vegetated than the slopes of the mountains. McKittrick Canyon is also known as the most beautiful spot in Texas.

We hiked up the canyon, but it was really windy in the open areas. Even so the kids actually enjoyed being blown around by the wind and were quite amused by it. We stopped and checked out the historic Pratt Cabin before continuing up the trail to the Grotto which is sort of an above ground cave, complete with formations. After taking a very long lunch and relaxing, we headed back to the trailhead in strong winds.

Mouth of McKittrick CanyonThis is the mouth of McKittrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains.

McKittrick Canyon Hiking McKittrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains.

Steam CrossingCrossing the stream in McKittrick Canyon.

McKittrick CanyonShaylee hiking in McKittrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains.

McKittrick CanyonHiking McKittrick Canyon.

McKittrick Canyon Hiking McKittrick Canyon.

McKittrick CanyonMcKittrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains.

The GrottoThe Grotto is sort of like an above ground cave and is located in McKittrick Canyon/Guadalupe Mountains.

Craggy PeakThis craggy peak rises directly above McKittrick Canyon said to be the most beautiful spot in Texas.

March 20: Chihuahua Nature Trail (New Mexico)

This morning, Shaylee, Kessler, Kim and I awoke to strong winds and ……….snow! In Texas for spring break! It was windy all through the night as well so Kim and I didn’t get so much sleep. I had actually brought our four season tent and I was very glad I did because some of the other tents in the campground didn’t fare so well. The sky had cleared by morning and it was 24F degrees with an estimated 35-40 mph winds. We had planned to hike Devils Hall, but we didn’t bring enough clothing for near 0F wind chills so we packed up camp and headed back towards Carlsbad.

It was still cold and very windy at Carlsbad, so the only hiking we did was the Chihuahua Desert Nature Trail. Since we didn’t bring our heavy parkas, gloves and hats for this trip (we did bring coats) we decided to call it a day hiking wise. We actually ended up visiting the Alien Museum in Roswell before heading north to Santa Fe.

Snow on the YuccaSnow on the Yuccas in Texas on March 20 2010.

March 21: Tsankawi (New Mexico)

It was chilly, but sunny in the morning near Santa Fe. There was some fresh snow around, but not too much so we drove north to the Tsankawi Ruins Trailhead in Bandelier National Monument.

We completed the loop hike around the ruins and petroglyphs while climbing over the top of the mesa in the process. The kids really enjoyed the wooden ladders leading up and over the cliffs. There was only a little snow on the trail and it was a great little hike to take before taking the long drive back to Craig Colorado.

Alien?This ancient petroglyph at Tsankawi seems to look like an alien. Is it a coincidence that Roswell is in the same state?

TsankawiKessler and Shaylee on part of the route to Tsankawi.

Trail to summitThis is part of the trail to the summit of Tsankawi (New Mexico) on March 21 2010.

Ancient rock stepsThese are some of the ancient rock steps used by the ancient native americans hundreds of years ago to reach the summit of Tsankawi. Now days, wooden ladders are used.

Near the topNear the top of Tsankawi


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-16 of 16

maddie77777 - Mar 26, 2010 11:38 am - Voted 10/10


Incredible pictures. I'll be at Guadalupe in 2 weeks. How long did it take to hike it with all those kids? I may try and visit Bandolier now that I've seen your pics. Thanks!


Scott - Mar 26, 2010 3:11 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Wow

Guadalupe took us just under four hours up, a little less down.

Bandelier is a great place, but it is north of Santa Fe so it wouldn't be on the way if you are coming from the east (we came from the north).


maddie77777 - Mar 26, 2010 5:37 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Wow

Yeah, I saw that. I'll be coming from the west, from El Paso, but we'll be going to Carlsbad as well, so your pictures there are a nice addition.


RokIzGud - Mar 26, 2010 8:04 pm - Voted 10/10


Looks like a blast!


CLMcGee - Mar 28, 2010 1:56 pm - Voted 9/10

Great Report

A very nice report. It is nice to see parents teaching their children to love outdoors


bryangast - Mar 29, 2010 12:02 am - Hasn't voted


I remember my parents taking me on a road trip there when I was in the 5th or 6th grade. Exploring the ruins and caves left a big impression on me.


BeDrinkable - Mar 30, 2010 12:10 pm - Voted 10/10

Good stuff Scott.

My sister was a ranger at Bandelier for several years. Your report brought back memories of thrashing around on the banks of the Rio Grande and hoping we didn't scare up any venomous snakes. Thanks!


surgent - Mar 30, 2010 4:55 pm - Voted 10/10

Beautiful country

I wish I could get up there more often. Great photos!


RobSC - Mar 31, 2010 4:18 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice Story and Pictures

Looks like you had a wonderful time. I've wanted to get to that part of the West for years now. Your story and photos only add to the allure!


aggiegeog - Apr 4, 2010 4:58 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice Report

Heading up to Guadalupe on Fri; we are going to be on the summit to watch the sun rise Saturday morning.

AvianQuest - Nov 10, 2010 12:51 am - Voted 10/10


Having climbed to the top of Guadalupe Peak on Oct. 29, 2010 at age 66, it's impressive to view your photos and read about all the peaks you have climbed and how many your wife and kids have done with you.

I recommend you include Iceland in your future plans. I've been there and it's an incredible place, although everything is quite expense.


Scott - Nov 11, 2010 6:03 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: WoW!

I recommend you include Iceland in your future plans.

Thanks for the recommendation.

Someday I hope to get there, but it's very difficult for me to get off work in summer. I'll have a rare short break in June next year, but we're making a quick trip to Alaska.


sm0421 - Mar 13, 2011 1:10 pm - Hasn't voted


Great report Scott, I will be flying in El Paso in May and hike Guadalupe and tour Carlsbad NP.. thanks!


darinchadwick - Sep 20, 2013 7:50 am - Voted 10/10

Huge help

I'm taking my 6 and 8 year old on a trip to this area in january\february. You trip report is a huge help for like minded parents with smaller adventurers. - Apr 29, 2014 1:08 pm - Hasn't voted


Your pictures and comments are super. It takes more than posted random snapshots to make a helpful post. Yours are very helpful. We plan to be at Guadalupe for the first time in mid-June. This not our first rodeo. Your photos are so reminiscent of our old slides. Our daughters are now in their late forties and we are in our seventies. One daughter still hikes and climbs and the other has become more of a beach tourist. Thanks again for a great set of pictures and comments.


Scott - May 2, 2014 12:53 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: norman

Thanks for the comment!

Viewing: 1-16 of 16



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

Carlsbad CavernsTrip Reports
Guadalupe PeakTrip Reports
Hunter PeakTrip Reports
El CapitanTrip Reports