Beyond Santa Fe…an adventure inside the caves of Bandelier, NM

A text appears on my cell phone from a dear family friend, Judith Jones.

“You MUST go to Bandelier.”

It just so happens to be that Bandelier is in fact written in the stars for us today!

Bandelier is the indigenous land of the ancestral pueblo people, also known as the “Anasazi.”

Beyond the inspiring and lively city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, lie ancient relics of the past in the form of caves, kivas and fabulous rock formations. With Siri’s guidance, we are off and running without a hitch. For those of you that have not been properly introduced to Siri, well she is Tyler’s personal female digital guide who seems to pop up at every turn with her bold and crystal clear digital voice offering directions downloaded from within her inner compass. She has been quite helpful, although there are those moments when it is wise to follow our own intuition and go with the marked signs on the road. πŸ™‚

Long gone are the days, it seems, is the stoic presence of the “The Thomas Auto Guide” in ones car. You know the ancient “Bible” from the past that religiously blessed all the cars since the 1950’s. Oh sadly, how it seems to be a relic of the past for those of us aligned with the digital age.

I vividly remember the day my mom swore against releasing me out onto the streets and freeways of Los Angeles, until the day I learned how to read these maps from front to back cover. She was fairly quick to take back this crazy idea realizing by the blank look on my face, at the ripe age of 16, that I may be 25 by the time her natural gift of map reading would flow naturally and spontaneously through my veins.

Long live Victoria Joy the Roadmap Queen! πŸ™‚

Bandelier is a good hour from Santa Fe. The Bandelier National Monument is a 33,677-acre National Monument that preserves the homes of the Ancestral Pueblo People.


A long stretched path strewn with pinion trees welcomes us into the national park of Bandelier. We enjoy a short stop on our way down into the canyon catching an awe inspiring glimpse of the landscape from upon the ridge of the canyon.

Upon entering the land, I feel the spirits, instantly. Since birth, I have had the ability to see and feel spirits, especially upon the reservations, has always been clear and sensitive. And admittedly a little scary and eerie, at times….A familiar feeling comes over me when I make contact with these “spirited” lands…Fortunately I have graduated through many initiations and learned many lessons, awakening my the ability to see beyond the veils, now relating from only a place of love, naturally dissolving any fear I once experienced.


Passing the tall PiΓ±on Tree path, we make our way down the canyon into the womb of the sacred Indigenous Pueblo land. We find a great parking spot. We check in at the entrance, pay our fee and graciously take a few minutes to listen to the friendly and outgoing guide giving her park scripted spiel about our safety and the rules of this preserved and protected sacred land. We say our thank you’s and travel upon the sunlit path.

Right away, I am taken by the beauty of the trees. They are so very present and alive. The Pines stand tall and proud, with needles erect and inspired. My camera just about jumps out of my bag into my hands sending me into a tree lovefest frenzy.


A kiva, (a ceremonial space in the shape of a circle), shines and sparkles in the sunlight, beyond the dancing pines. Magic conspires and invites the eye to see beyond the surface sweeping the space with a gentle dusting of the wind, revealing a crystalline reflection. The dust spirals, veils lift, spirits awaken.

In the distance, ladders of all shapes and sizes stretch out across the landscape as far as the eye can see, poking out from among high caves above. “Climb me, they inspire,” inviting the visitor to have a spacious look within. Lightly imprinted petroglyphs dance upon the surfaces, offering a trace inside the roots of her humble and spacious abode. Tyler points out a sun kissed mandala lightly imprinted on the surface of her skin.


A ladder graciously awaits us. We climb up. How beautiful it is to be in the prescence of the caves so high up in the sky. Naturally, I start to imagine and envision living this close the earth again as I did several lifetimes before this one. I turn to Tyler sharing with unbridled enthusiasm how wonderful it would be to have one cave for a bedroom, one for a kitchen, one for a ceremony/vision room and one for community space…and of course, it would be a village of family and friends living in harmony with the earth, together as One.

“Yea…ok, “High Priestess,” Tyler responds, not without a hint of sarcasm… πŸ™‚ A woman can dream…Afterall, isn’t it in our nature, ladies, To WOMBmanifest?

Up and down ladders we travel into the heart of the caves of Bandelier. These smaller climbs into the skies are simply a practice and pre initiation for the well known climb at Alcove House, just a half mile away…We hear that you can practically touch the treetops there.


We cross the river and walk through the pine forest, a half miles walk in all. We pass by various warning signs along the way. I recall the woman at the visitor center telling everyone, “Climb at your own risk and with a sense of humor with a sense of warning she adds, “Don’t bother climbing up if you don’t feel good about climbing down.”

Wise words, indeed! As what goes up, must come down! and it’s only you that can do this. There are no slides or birds that are going to swoop you up and bring you graciously back onto earth. Or are there? Oh, and let’s also keep in mind that the Park is closing down this very spot starting in two weeks to restabilize the area…yikes! πŸ™‚ I guess they really want to impress self responsibility here.

We arrive at Alcove House. A series of ladders poke out from the trees, stretching far up into the skies. At first glance the warnings feel like a lot of hype. The climb doesn’t seem so scary after all, I think to myself.

Ladders tightly intact. We lift off. It feels natural to climb. Just, perhaps a friendly reminder to perhaps not look down right away until your ready! It does prove to be a substantial height once your on your way. But, do take a moment to take in the beauty, as it is quite expansive and euphoric of a feeling. Easy climb on the way up, but down, you are best to channel your inner monkey and swing from bar to bar with great focus, agility and presence.

A majestic ceremonial kiva rests at the top.

I take some moments of solitude by the entrance. I hear the winds pick up. I take it as a sign to travel back down towards the earth below.


Tyler and I meet back on the pine needle path below. We both feel inspired by the beautiful and sacred land of Bandelier. We share a moment of gratitude with the land and with each other for this blessed adventure.

Written by AliSUN TREES

Comments 2

  1. I remember a hard-to-reach Thomas Guide right under the back seat. We still keep that around for posterity. That and the AAA card I’ve had sice the age of 16, assuring my mother that I’d be able to get someone who spoke English. They’ve sure gotten us out of some predicaments and into some decent hotel fares. That generation did well in the car department. My dad got me an early model well-used avocado green Mercury Coment with a gas-guzzling V-8 engine and more of that avocado green on the carpeted floors and pristine vinyl seats. It was even wrapped around the steering wheel for good measure.

    How much longer will you be in this area?

  2. I have been enjoying all your travel posts thus far. This one is especially delightful from start to finish with such gorgeous pictures. I really feel I am sharing your adventures with you because of how you bring me inside of where you are as you experience it so profoundly. So beautiful, so playful and fun! xoxox

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