Tsankawi Ruins Hike – 10/12/2016

Taking a break from busy times, Pat & I headed to Taos for a couple of nights.  To get in some hiking, we took a short side-trip towards Bandelier National Monument to visit an outlying site, the Tsankawi section of the monument.  On this two mile hike up and around the top of a mesa, we wandered among the ruins of the home of the Ancestral Tewa Pueblo people (the NPS web page provides great detail about the ruins and its people, and about the surrounding environment).

The Hike

Tsankawi Ruins Hike - Pat

Tsankawi Ruins Hike – Pat

We hiked the loop in a clockwise direction, climbing to the mesa top via a ladder, then going south to the ruins site. Exploring the ruins, we found pottery shards scattered throughout, and encountered a couple of room-blocks with walls still standing.  From the mesa top the trail descends to a ledge some 60 feet above the valley floor via another ladder and a couple of stretches on steps carved into the rock. From there the trail remains on the ledge, passing through fascinating geology from the ancient volcanic activity, a few caves in the soft, fragile rock, and with numerous walls covered with petroglyphs.  Much of the trail up to and down from the mesa is a narrow, sometimes deep groove worn into the soft rock by centuries of foot traffic.


I enjoy very much visiting these sites with remains of the Pueblo cultures from as far back as 900 AD.  Tsankawi is very easy to get to, and offers an easy hike, not much elevation gain on well-traveled trails.


Total Distance:  1.83 miles
Elevation: start  6,499 ft, maximum  6,690 ft,  minimum 6,492 ft
Gross gain: 198 ft.  Aggregate ascending 513 ft, descending 513 ft
Maximum slope: 55% ascending, 51% descending, 8.2% average
Duration: 2:05

GPS Track Files for Download


National Park Service “Tsankawi
National Park Service “Tsankawi Trail Intro
Summit Post “Tsankawi, New Mexico


This entry was posted in 2016, Bandelier, Ruins, Years and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tsankawi Ruins Hike – 10/12/2016

  1. Vincent Humann says:

    This is one of my favorite places. It has wonderful views from the trail and the I love the deeply worn trail in the volcanic tuff. It is definitely a unique experience to truly walk in the footsteps of the ancients.

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