Bandalier National Monument is an absolutely great place to visit, at least I think so. I’m really into waterfalls, and I’m also into exploring Native American ruins. Bandalier National Monument has both. The waterfalls, Upper Frijoles Falls and Lower Frijoles Falls, are not really the main attraction.
In one way, they are not the main attraction simply because they probably don’t have much water flowing over them usually. When I visited, there was water, which is good. I imagine early spring would be the best bet to see more flow. The rock colors around the falls are sometimes more attractive than the falls themselves. On the other hand, the hike to both Lower and Upper Frijoles Falls is not nearly as populated as the other areas, and so you’ll probably see only a few other people along your way. That can make for a very calm and enjoyable day.
1) From White Rock, head west on NM-4 to the entrance to Bandalier National Monument.
2) Pay the entrance fee and start the drive down toward the parking lot.
3) The first parking lot you enter is the best place to park to view the housing. There is a parking area to your left that might not be apparent at first. If you turn left and park at the end of the parking area, you will be closest to the trailhead leading to the falls.
4) From the trailhead, hike the distance to the falls. It’s an easier hike than I expected, though the last quarter of a mile is steeper.
5) You almost have to intentionally turn around to see Lower Falls as your descending toward the Rio Grande. If you miss either falls on the way down, you’ll see them on the way back up.
Where in the World is Lower Frijoles Falls?: map