General Trip Planning Information
Visitors planning to camp overnight in wilderness should register their travel plans and receive a backcountry permit from the visitor center in Frijoles Canyon. The 2011 Las Conchas Fire and epic flooding in September 2013 has washed away the trails in the canyon bottoms. Due to the continued risk of flooding for several years, these trails will not be repaired until that risk is reduced. The canyons are not closed but increased backcountry skills are needed to find where trails pick up to climb out of the canyons.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
Many wilderness visitors underestimate the amount of water they need to carry for personal consumption in Bandelier Wilderness. This wilderness setting is relatively high altitude and arid all year. During orientation at the Bandelier visitor center, consult with the ranger staff regarding recommended drinking water needs.
Safety and Current Conditions
There is an increased risk of flooding in the canyon bottoms due to the 2011 Las Conchas Fire mentioned in the General Trip Planning Information section. Thunderstorms are often very localized and rain in the mountains can produce a flash flood in a canyon many miles away. Be aware of rain falling in the mountains upstream from you. If there is a flash flood, move to higher ground. It often does not take more than a few feet of climbing to get out of harms way. DO NOT enter a flooded stream. You will not be able to see the bottom and it may be much deeper than you expect. The 7.5" of rain that fell in five days in September 2013 has left many of the trails in rough condition. Navigating park trails requires fitness and orientation skills that were not always needed in the past. Trail maintenance and rerouting is being planned but will take years to accomplish. Please talk to the ranger staff to be sure you understand the challenges that are present.
Visitors should familiarize themselves with recommended actions on encountering mountain lions, bears and rattlesnakes by visiting the Bandelier visitor center in Frijoles Canyon.