Frijoles Canyon and Rim Trail
Photo by Sally King
After the Las Conchas fire of 2011and subsequent flooding as recent as September 2013, the trail through Frijoles Canyon was severely damaged to the point it can no longer be called a trail. The route is not quite as easy as it used to be, so you can expect more of a challenge. Some creek crossings require a bit of scrambling. Also come prepared to get your feet wet as there are no bridges across the creek. In fact hiking in the streambed is often the best route. Hiking poles may be a good idea to help with your balance in some areas.
Please note: Conditions are subject to change, depending on summer rains and flood events.
The part of the canyon above and below Upper Crossing burned extremely hot in the Las Conchas Fire. However; once you go down the canyon a mile or so you begin to get out of the severely burned area and get back into forested, shady parts of the canyon again where the burn was less intense. The Narrows are as gorgeous as ever, with its sun dappled cliffs and lively creek. With the floodwaters continuing to rearrange the canyon bottom, some areas are stunningly beautiful. Although greatly changed, this is still a gorgeous hike and offers unique perspective to the power of water.
For those who have hiked this trail before, you will notice that a lot of the old landmarks are gone and it will be like exploring a new canyon. For first timers it will almost seem like you are hiking a canyon in Utah, only in your own backyard. Take the time to enjoy the incredible rock formations and relax in the peace and quiet that are becoming so hard to find in our modern world.
Please note: Since the Las Conchas fire, Frijoles Canyon is more susceptible to flash floods. During the monsoon season it is best to be out of the canyon before the afternoon rain.
Here are some options of different ways to hike the Frijoles Canyon Trail:
Leave one vehicle at the Visitor Center, then drive another to Ponderosa Campground, hike the trail to the Visitor Center, then drive the car you left there back to Ponderosa Campground. This is approximately an 8 mile hike.
Another option is to park at the Visitor Center, hike up the Long Trail then along the Frijoles Rim Trail to Upper Crossing, then down Frijoles Canyon back to the Visitor Center. This is approximately a 13 mile loop, so come prepared to spend the day.
Finally, another way is to simply park at the Visitor Center, hike up the canyon, then hike back down to the Visitor Center. The Narrows area is about 4 miles up canyon from the Visitor Center and is quite stunning so be sure not to turn back too soon!
If you have questions, the staff at the Visitor Center will be happy to help you. They can also tell you about some of the other great hiking opportunities at Bandelier National Monument. From day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips, there is something for everyone who has the skills/mindset to meet the current challenges.
Did You Know?
About 70% of Bandelier National Monument is a designated Wilderness area? Hikers can enjoy viewing remote archeological sites and spotting rare wildlife in this less developed area of the park.