Ponderosa pine forests are found at middle elevations on the Pajarito Plateau where increased snowfall and summer rains create wetter conditions. The Ancestral Pueblo people used these trees as roof beams for their homes and hunted the mule deer which thrive in this community. Ponderosa pine forests provide important habitat for a wide range of species such as Abert's Squirrels, Red-tailed Hawks, and Western Bluebirds to name just a few.
Before European settlement, ponderosa pine forests were more open than we see them today. Widely spaced trees towered above rich grasses and occasional clumps of Gambel's oak. Frequent, naturally-occurring surface fires kept the forest healthy and open. Since 1977, major crown fires have burned many of the park's large stands of ponderosa pine creating open grasslands in many areas.
Last updated: August 8, 2017