Tyuonyi Overlook

Round Trip Distance: 2.1 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6547 - 6694 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Tyuonyi Overlook
Fee: $15/person or $25/vehicle
Attractions: Various ruins and overlook

The Tyuonyi (QU-weh-nee) Overlook trail is located in the Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico. The trail begins near the amphitheatre in the Juniper Campground where it travels across the mesa to the point of a ridge overlooking Frijoles Canyon and the Tyuonyi Pueblo. Enroute the trail passes the ruins of several mesa-top pueblos and a large circle of rocks that may have had similar uses to those of a kiva. An optional return route leads to several overlooks of the 'Narrows' section of Frijoles Canyon.

The trailhead is about 100 feet from the amphitheatre in the Juniper Campground which is just past the main entrance to the monument.

The main branch of the trail is well worn and very easy to follow.

A little over 300 feet from the trailhead a short spur branches off on the right the leads over to an agricultural exhibit.

Here within a fenced area there are examples of the Ancestral Puebloans 3 main staples, corn, beans and squash, that are growing under similar conditions as were used by the mesas earliest inhabitants.

Stay to the left near the half mile point where the return route reconnects with the main trail.

As the trail continues across the mesa there are several rubble piles of an unexcavated site closeby on the left.

A short distance past that there is another small ruin with a few short walls that reveal the outline of some rooms.

A sign at that location mentions: 'Partial excavation showed this site of about 20 rooms was occupied in the 1200's'.

Just past the 3/4 mile point the trail starts out onto a ridge that gets narrower as it progresses. It is along here that it passes a large circular structure.

The trail reaches the overlook at the end of the ridge and comes to an end.

From the overlook almost all of the Tyuonyi Pueblo is in full view. There is a nice diorama of the pueblo in the Visitor Center that gives an eye opening depiction of how it may have looked back in the day with some sections being 2-3 stories high. Off to the left of the pueblo there are some excellent views of the switchbacks on the lower end of the Frey trail while further down the canyon the Visitor Center and office buildings can be seen.

The alternate return route adds about a quarter mile to the round trip distance. Hiking the main branch out and back comes out to about 1.8 miles by itself. We didn't notice any ruins along the alternate route but since we had plenty of time it was nice to check out the views of upper Frijoles Canyon. The Tyuonyi Overlook trail is well worth checking out while visiting Bandelier National Monument and especially handy for anyone staying in the campground. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.