Frijoles Canyon and Rim Trail

tent rocks tower over hikers
tent rocks tower over hikers

Photo by Sally King

If you want to get an idea what these hikes are like, try out these virtual tours. Frijoles Canyon Frijoles Canyon late May Frijoles Rim Trail

The Frijoles canyon trail is a very popular 8 mile one way hike from Ponderosa group campground to the Visitor Center. This trail has just been rebuilt after the Conchas fire and subsequent flooding, and is now in great condition. From Ponderosa campground the trail descends into the canyon bottom and turns left along the creek and canyon bottom towards the Visitor Center. Take the time to enjoy the incredible rock formations and relax in the peace and quiet that is becoming so hard to find in our modern world. Be prepared to get your feet wet as there are no bridges, but the water is usually no more than a couple of inches deep.

The Frijoles Rim trail is located on the mesa above Frijoles canyon. From Cottonwood picnic area by the Visitor center, take the Long trail to the Frijoles Rim trail. It connects to the Mid Frijoles trail at the upper crossing of Frijoles creek and allows you to turn this into about a 13 mile loop. This trail gives you expansive views of a good portion of Northern New Mexico and several mountain ranges.

Please note: Conditions are subject to change, depending on summer rains and flood events.

upper frijoles nov 2019

photo by sally king

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 beautiful 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.

pasque flowers on frijoles rim trail
In April, pasque flowers bloom on the Frijoles Rim Trail.  The beautiful flowers look too dainty to survive the harsh conditions here but they continue to bloom yearly.

photo by sally king

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 either the Canyon or the Canyon rim trail to the Visitor Center, then drive the car you left there back to Ponderosa Campground. This is approximately an 8 (.2 miles more for the rim trail) 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.

poison ivy pretty but do not touch
Poison ivy and stinging nettle has returned quickly along the bottom of Frijoles Canyon. Long pants are recommended when hiking.

Photo by Sally King

pond hike 102918 24
Upper Frijoles shows the signs of renewal since the fire and floods.

photo by sally king

frijoles rim trail 2
Wide open views are amazing on the Frijoles Rim Trail.

photo by sally king

trail from ponderosa
A view of the trail from Ponderosa Campground to Upper Crossing from the west side of Frijoles Canyon.

photo by sally king

frijoles rim trail
Although the Frijoles Rim Trail travels mostly through the piñon juniper woodland, spotty stands of Ponderosa still exist left from a wetter past.

Photo by Sally King

upper frijoles canyon
Even a decade after Las Conchas Fire, the impacts can still be seen.  Each year new plants replace those dead standing reminders of the fiery past.

photo by Sally King

narrows frijoles canyon 519
Spring 2019 was a very green time to hike from Ponderosa to the visitor center, just 8 miles one way.

Photo by Sally King

Last updated: February 20, 2023

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