High Water Events 2012
Photos by Kay Beeley
After a fire, hillsides are denuded of vegetation (think of how each leaf catches and temporarily holds drops of water) and scorched soils are covered by a more impervious surface, leaving little to slow down the water from downpours from collecting and filling watersheds. As a result, flash floods often follow landscape altering fires such as the Las Conchas fire that burned much of Bandelier in 2011. On August 21, 2011 (just 2 months after the fire) all of Bandelier's canyons were hit by flash flood events. In 2012, the expectation was that additional large flood events would occur. However, the summer rains were less than expected and resulted only in more than a dozen high-water events (when the creek rises within its banks but doesn't spill out in the area near the park visitor center). Detailed information on some of those events is found below.
Did You Know?
Frijoles Creek drops approximately 80 feet over the Upper Falls. The falls occur where the waters of Frijoles Creek hit the more resistant, dense basalt rock from the neck of an ancient volcano.