Natural Resources at Bandelier National Monument

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Willows and colorful rock formations contrast with a blue Rio Grande and clear sky on a nice winter day.
Rio Grande in winter at Bandelier National Monument.

NPS / Sally King

Bandelier National Monument encompasses 33,675 acres along the eastern side of the Jemez Mountains in north-central New Mexico. It was designated as a national monument in 1916 to protect its Ancestral Puebloan resources. In 1976, 70% of the monument was designated as wilderness.

Much of the area was covered with volcanic ash, or Bandelier tuff, when an ancient volcano erupted about a million years ago. Most of the park overlaps the southern portion of the Parajito Plateau, a geologic formation of narrow mesas and deep canyons.

These dramatic features create different microclimates that support a diversity of life forms. Fifteen vegetation community types are found in the monument and include juniper grassland, pinyon-juniper woodland, ponderosa pine forest, mixed conifer forest, high-elevation meadows, and riparian communities. Bandelier NM supports 10 amphibian, 216 bird, 34 fish, 80 mammal, 36 reptile, 382 insects (of which more than 81 are butterflies), and 124 arachnid species.

The water resources of Bandelier include a number of perennial springs and streams. Bandelier NM possesses Class I, the highest level, air quality, which has legal protection under the Clean Air Act. All of these natural resources have been seriously affected by the frequency and extent of large-scale crown fires that have burned across the park since 2000.

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Life Zones

Bandelier NM ranges in elevation from 5,217 feet at the Rio Grande to more than 10,000 feet at the peak of Cerro Grande (1,590–3,050 m) and spans five life zones - from Semi-Desert Grassland/Shrub Steppe through Spruce-Fir Forest. The park experiences an average annual precipitation of 15 inches (382 mm).

Graphic of a mountain divided into illustrated vegetation zones by elevation and exposure, with the elevations that correspond to Bandelier National Monument highlighted

Climate Summary Chart

Charts are an effective way to summarize and graphically represent climate variables. The following chart is based on the diagrams developed for vegetation studies by Walter and Lieth in 1967. Visit our climate page for more information.

Graph with lines charting average temperature and precipitation at Bandelier National Monument from 1924 to 1976 by the time of year.

Reports & Publications

Inventory Reports

Inventories are point-in-time surveys that help us learn about the resources in our parks. Information obtained through the Southern Colorado Plateau Network’s inventories of park resources helped to establish a base level of data, which has served as a starting point for our natural resource monitoring.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 3515 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Monitoring Reports

Our monitoring reports provide the most recent published findings from our field work.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 3471 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.


Protocols describe how we monitor. They include a descriptive narrative of what we monitor and why, our field methods, how we analyze and manage our data, and more. All of our protocols are peer reviewed.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 3280 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

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    Last updated: November 6, 2018