Frijolito Loop Trail - Frijolito Ruins, Frijolito Loop Trailhead - Backcountry Access Point, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
Frijolito Loop Trail - Frijolito Ruins - 2.55 miles
Frijolito Loop Trailhead - Backcountry Access Point
|Round-Trip Length:||2.55 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||6,182' - 6,182' (6,606' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+424' net elevation gain (+600' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Frijolito Loop Trail - Frijolito Ruins - 2.55 Miles Round-Trip
The Frijolito Loop Trail provides visitors with an aerial view of Frijoles Canyon to the northwest as well as the Jemez Mountain range to the southwest. Also visible from a distance are the ancient ruins and cave dwellings located on the north side of the canyon wall.
The Frijolito Loop Trailhead is located within the Cottonwood Picnic Area, a few hundred feet from the Bandelier Visitor Center. From the main parking lot, begin walking down the paved road to the west of the Visitor Center and keep an eye out for the marked trailhead sign on the left hand side of the road. The trailhead is marked as 'Bandelier's Backcountry'.
The trail begins to climb immediately from the trailhead and in a very short time, you are presented with a 3-way trail split. Bear left to take the center trail marked clearly with a sign to the 'Frijolito Ruins'.
At this point the trail switchbacks steeply up the canyon wall for .4 miles until you level out on top of the mesa (6,515'). On the way up, views of Frijoles Canyon become more dramatic and you have terrific views of the cave dwellings across the canyon.
Now climbing very gradually along the mesa top, the trail heads north hugging the canyon rim. At this point, the trail affords unabated views of Frijoles Canyon and the Jemez Mountains.
At .66 miles (6,595') you reach the unexcavated site of Frijoles Ruins, marked with a sign. Unexcavated ruins can be easily missed and resemble small dirt mounds covered with yellow grass, and evidence of ancient rock walls. This site is no different, showcasing multiple ruin areas with kivas and other structures that have yet to be unearthed by archeologists.
Past Frijolito Ruins, the trail continues level, remaining just inside the canyon rim along a beautiful green mesa filled with juniper trees, wildflowers and tall yellow grass. It is thought that the Ancestral Pueblo used this mesa area for farming and harvesting crops.
At about 1.5 miles, a trail split occurs. Continuing straight leads to Stone Lions and Upper Crossing, while turning right will continue the loop on the Long Trail. Turn right and begin your descent back down to the canyon floor via the Long Trail.
At about 2.2 miles (6,211') another trail split occurs, leading either to the Alcove House (Ceremonial Cave) or back to the trailhead. Turn right to continue the loop and head back to the trailhead. At 2.5 miles (6,150'), you meet back up with the short connector trail and hike 50 yards back to the trailhead.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N35 46.740 W106 16.345 — Frijolito Loop Trailhead (west of Visitor Center)
- It's illegal to move, remove, or enter historical artifacts and structures unless explicitly stated.
- Rattlesnakes. mountain lions, and bears inhabit this canyon and mesa area.
- Binoculars are recommended on this trail to enhance cross-canyon views.
- The trailhead is marked only as 'Backcountry Access Point', and not as the official Frijolito Loop Trailhead.
- Park in the main Visitor Center parking lot and walk along the road to the wet of the Visitor Center to access the trailhead, which will be on your left.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Backcountry camping is available in this area with a permit obtained from the Visitor Center. Camping is also available at the Juniper Campground which is open from March through November. Before your trip, call the park for current backcountry and campground information.
Backpacking permits must be obtained for any overnight stays in the park's backcountry. Access to Juniper campground is 24/7 except in the event of a closure due to heavy snows or other emergencies.
Rules and Regulations
- Do not litter. Leave the area as you would want it left to you.
- Stay on trails. Climbing walls or cliffs is not allowed unless a ladder is provided.
- Collecting, disturbing or defacing archeological sites / artifacts is a federal felony offense. Violators are always prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
- Removing or picking flowers / plants is illegal.
- DO NOT feed wildlife. Plague can be carried by squirrels and even a small bite from a squirrel can result with infection.
- NO PETS on trails. They are restricted to campgrounds, picnic areas and parking lots. NEVER keep you pet locked inside your vehicle unattended.
- There are no bikes allowed on trails. They are allowed only on paved park roads. This is also true for motorized bikes.
- Fires are restricted to the campground areas and available cooking grills. Collecting firewood is prohibited.
- Permit is required for any backcountry camping in Bandelier.
Directions to Trailhead
From Los Alamos, take Route 502 south-west for 5 miles, then Route 4 south-east for 6 miles to the signed turn-off into the Monument. The trailhead is located behind the Visitor Center about 3 miles past the Bandelier entrance station.
The Frijolito Loop Trailhead is located a few hundred feet from the Bandelier Visitor Center. From the main parking lot, begin walking down the paved road to the west of the Visitor Center and keep an eye out for the marked trailhead sign on the left hand side of the road. The trailhead is marked as a 'Backcountry Access Point'.
Bandelier National Monument
15 Entrance Road
Los Alamos, NM 87544
Visitor Center daytime phone
(505) 672-3861 x517
Visitor Information (recorded)
(505) 672-3861 x 534
Visitor Center Operating Hours
Summer: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through Monday of Labor Day weekend)
Winter: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (When mountain Standard time is observed; approx. Nov.- Mar.)
Spring/Fall: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (When Mountain Daylight time is observed in April & Sept.- Oct.)
Park and Visitor Center are open daily except:
Closed December 25 and January 1.
All day use areas (including Frijoles Canyon, Tsankawi, Cerro Grande trail, Burnt Mesa trail, etc) of the park open to recreation at 6:30 AM year-round. Day use areas must be vacated by official sunset (on summer solstice this is 8:25 PM).