Bandelier National Monument is little more than an hour away from Santa Fe, near Los Alamos. It’s well worth the trip to see this ancient Anasazi site.
Buy a copy of the Frijoles Canyon trail guide at the Visitor Center for $1 before you head out. It’s crucial to understanding items along the 1 ¼ mile loop walk which features remains of an ancient pueblo, reconstructed cliff dwellings and kivas. Some reconstructions have ladders for access. The general rule is: No ladder: stay out; if there’s a ladder: c’mon in.
By the way, you can’t miss the Bat Cave. Unfortunately, the reason you can’t miss it is the pile of guano at the base of the cliff and its stench…. In season, rangers lead an Evening Batwalk at sunset to see the bats fly out.
At the far end of the Frijoles Canyon walk, just as it loops back to the Visitor Center, there’s a right hand turn for the ½ mile trail to Ceremonial Cave. Take this walk. It’s a level, shaded dirt trail, all easy walking until the end. Then it’s a 140 foot climb using four separate rustic wooden ladders and a few narrow sets of stairs to a large cave overlooking the canyon. It’s not a true cave, more like a large hollow in the cliff face. Despite the name, today it’s no longer believed to have had ceremonial uses. Current thinking is that it was just another large communal living space.
Note that the hike is at 6000 foot elevation in an area with extreme heat, important considerations for those coming from sea level homes in northern climes. Be sure to take a water bottle