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22 miles

Trail Type

Out & Back

Trail Difficulty


Δ Elevation (FT)

~2700 (+)

USGS Quad Map(s):  Bandelier National Monument Topo Map

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Painted Cave Trail (BNM)

New Mexico

  • Elk in Bandelier National Monument.
  • Albert's Squirrel are common Bandelier National Monument.
  • Rocky Mountain Bee Plant in Bandelier National Monument.
  • Pine Siskin in Bandelier National Monument.

Activities & Features


Painted Cave route in Bandelier National Monument near Santa Fe is a very tough day hike that is sure to please those looking for big adventure and big history. The monument says "There are two access points to start a hike to Painted Cave: the Bandelier Visitor Center or the Dome Trailhead. The round-trip hike from the Visitor Center is 22 miles up and down steep-walled canyons on switchback trails with no reliable access to water. This strenuous hike is not considered to be appropriate as a day-hike. The round-trip from the Dome Trailhead, which is located off of Forest Service Road 142, is 14.5 miles. This trailhead can be accessed only by high clearance vehicles. Wet weather, downed trees or winter road closures can make the trailhead inaccessible by vehicle." The Juniper Campground in Bandelier National Monument is a great place to stay when visiting the park.


President Woodrow Wilson protected Bandelier National Monument in 1916. The monument preserves dwellings, petroglyphs and other culturally significant areas once inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloans. The Civilian Conservation Corps largely built the park’s infrastructure during the Great Depression. During WWII the monument was closed to public for a few years because the lodge was used to house scientists working on the Manhattan Project developing the atom bomb. Today, hikers can walk through more than 10,000 years of Native American history through modern day historical events.

Red Tape

Entrance and Camping Fees
Contact: Bandelier National Monument 15 Entrance Road Los Alamos, NM 87544

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