PONDEROSA CAMPGROUND (NM)
OVERVIEW Ponderosa Group Campground is located 6 miles from the park's main entrance and is an ideal place to stay for large groups visiting Bandelier National Monument. The campground is adjacent to Ponderosa Trail Head providing access to more than 70 miles of hiking trails and is just a short drive from the Visitor Center, the Frijoles Canyon Shuttle System (mid-May to mid-October), and the town of Los Alamos, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Manhattan Project National Historic Site, and the Santa Fe National Forest. Ponderosa Group Campground is open year-round (Water is only available from mid-May to mid-October). Frijoles Canyon and the park Visitor Center are accessible only by shuttle bus from mid-May to mid-October. The shuttle bus system stops at the Bandelier Visitor Center, Juniper Campground, and the White Rock Visitor Center in the town of White Rock. All park areas can be accessed by private vehicle outside of the designated shuttle bus period. RECREATION Accessible from Ponderosa Group Campground, the Ponderosa Trail descends into the park through ponderosa pine forest and connects to many other trails including the Middle Frijoles Trails which leads 8 miles through Frijoles Canyon to the Visitor Center and Main Loop Trail. The Visitor Center houses museum exhibits, park film, information and ranger programs, Western National Parks Association sales outlet, and more. Entrance to Frijoles Canyon and the Visitor Center is by shuttle bus only from mid-May to mid-October. These areas are accesibile by private vehicle outside the shuttle bus period. Although rock climbing is prohibited within Bandelier National Monument, many popular climbs are within a short drive up Route 4 into the Jemez Mountains. FACILITIES This campground is located at 7600 feet and is usually free of snow from mid-April through mid October. Water is not available during any months with freezing temperatures. Vault toilets (with no running water), drinking water, a picnic shelter, picnic tables, food storage lockers, and campfire rings are provided at this facility. No hookup campsites are available. These sites are tent-only, but one RV per site can be accommodated in the parking area. Each site can accommodate between 10 and 50 people. Check-in time for campground is 4:00 pm. Check-out time for the campround is 11:30 a.m. Sites can be reserved for large group picnics, however the fee and process is the same as reserving the site for an overnight stay. NATURAL FEATURES Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged, beautiful canyon and mesa country which features evidence of human presence going back over 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities. Bandelier National Monument sits at the southern end of the Pajarito (Spanish for little bird) Plateau. The plateau was formed by two eruptions 1.6 and 1.4 million years ago. Home to the Bandelier Wilderness, Bandelier ranges from 5340 ft at the Rio Grande River to the south and 10,199 ft at the summit of Cerro Grande to the north, almost a mile of elevation change in just under 12 miles. This elevation gradient creates a unique diversity of habitats specific to Northern New Mexico. The diversity of habitats and quick access to water supported a relatively large population of Ancestral Pueblo people. Currently, Piñon-Juniper woodlands dominate in the southern parts of the park transitioning through ponderosa pine savannahs and forests, finally reaching mixed conifer forests at the highest elevation. Scattered throughout the park are desert grasslands, montane meadows, and riparian areas in the canyon bottoms. Over 70 miles of trails at Bandelier climb in and out of deep canyons and cross large flat mesas, showcasing the entire spectrum of volcanic geology and ecosystems found within the park. The park is home to over 55 species of mammals including mule deer, Abert's squirrels, mountain lions, black bears, and 16 species of bats. Replitles and amphibians of all shapes and sizes can be seen. Birds such as Steller's jays, canyon towhees and mountain chickadees stay year-round, whereas turkey vultures, western tanagers, and black-headed grosbeaks are summer residents. NEARBY ATTRACTIONS The town of Los Alamos has shopping, museums, amenities, a movie theater, ice rink, ski hill, and is home to Manhattan Project National Historic Site. Nearby Department of Energy and US Forest Service lands provide trails which accommodate pets. Valles Caldera National Preserve is 16 miles west of Bandelier. Jemez Historic Site is 37 miles west. Pecos National Historical Park is 70 miles southeast. Santa Fe, 40 miles south of the park, is home to the New Mexico state capitol, museums, historic districts, art galleries, food, accomodations, and more.