(White Rock NM)
The ancient native ruins and trail at Tsankawi is part of Bandalier National Monument, although distant from the main part. The ancestral Tewa peoples that dwelled there were related to the current San Ildefonso Pueblo which is nearby.
It sat atop a mesa accessed by a trail going up paths that have been used for centuries. Deep ruts have been formed by repeatedly following the same tracks. At some spots a ladder was needed to reach the next level.
Little is visible of the main pueblo (much not excavated); just piles of rocks and parts of walls are scattered around. Originally it had two stories with about 275 rooms on the ground floor. A recess and retaining wall was likely a cistern to capture water. It could be that some of the deep grooves were part of a water distribution system.
After crossing the mesa, a ladder or ancient rock staircase took me down over the side of a cliff. There could be seen many small caves or cavates in the cliff. Larger ones would have had stone walls enclosing them to protect contents; most likely supplies and food storage.
The return trail followed a ledge below the cliff, but still far above the floor below. They may have had crop fields down there. Along the way were some petroglyphs. Expansive views of the surrounding canyons were impressive. I believe the trail was about three miles roundtrip.
Camp: Santa Fe NF-Frijoles Ridge boondock
Scene: Ruins, trail, mesa, cliffs