Banadalier National Monument is a spectacular place to visit, and most people visit to see the amazing Native American history there. Hidden in a corner of the park, viewed by far fewer people, are two waterfalls on the Frijoles River. The two drops are actually significant, with Upper Frijoles Falls dropping about 80′ or maybe a little more. It’s hard to judge the height, as you’re actually standing above the falls.
The Upper Falls does get sort of lost in all of the rock surrounding the falls. The rocks are so colorful, that it can be difficult to see the falls in the background. This is one waterfall where a camera with a zoom is necessary to try to get a closer view in the picture. Pay attention to all of the different colors in the rock. At one point, you can look out and see the Rio Grande. As you’re looking out, the rocks have these amazingly colorful layers…reds, greens, oranges, and yellows all are present.
- From White Rock, head west on NM-4 to the entrance to Bandalier National Monument.
- Pay the entrance fee and start the drive down toward the parking lot.
- 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 trail head leading to the falls.
- From the trail head, hike the distance to the falls. It’s an easier hike than I expected, though the last quarter of a mile is steeper.
Note: In 2011, there was a major flooding event that made Lower Frijole Falls inaccessible. The Upper Falls is now accessible via trail, but some of these notes may have changed.
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: 3 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Upper Frijoles Falls?