Hiking from Ponderosa Campground to the Visitor Center June 2017

rock bridge in Frijoles Canyon narrows
A fallen rock bridge in the narrows of Frijoles Canyon

Photo by Sally King

The hike from Ponderosa Group Campground to the park visitor center is approximately 8 miles one way. If possible, it is best to have two cars when doing this hike. This allows you to leave one car at the park visitor center (remember that during shuttle season you can only drive into the visitor center before 9 AM or after 3 PM) and take one vehicle to the trailhead at Ponderosa Campground. It is best to start early in the summer as there is minimal shade in Frijoles Canyon since Las Conchas Fire and thunderstorms begin to rumble in the afternoon in July, August, and September leaving you vulnerable to flashfloods. The hike is beautiful but poison ivy and stinging nettles are very common in the post-fire canyon so long pants are recommended. There are no bridges for the numerous crossings of Frijoles Creek required during the hike so shoes that can get wet are also an advantage. Crews are working on a mile section in the canyon narrows to remove downed trees but remember dead trees (and there are a lot of them) will continue to fall so be ready to climb over downfalls and try to avoid this hike in windy conditions.
 
a view of upper crossing from Frijoles Canyon rim
The affects of fire and flood in Frijoles Canyon are readily apparent at the first view from the rim of the canyon.  The trail from here switchbacks into the canyon to Upper Crossing.  From there one can hike down canyon to the park visitor center or up to the west rim of the canyon and numerous sites beyond.

Photo by Sally King

 
camping zone F in Frijoles Canyon
Vegetation (especially scrub oak) is returning to Frijoles Canyon.  The number of dead standing trees in Zone F makes it less than desirable as a camping zone.

Photo by Sally King

 
Frijoles Canyon Narrows
The Frijoles Canyon narrows are very beautiful with the steep rocky cliffs.

Photo by Sally King

Last updated: June 25, 2017

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Bandelier National Monument
15 Entrance RD

Los Alamos, NM 87544

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