Bandelier sees influx of visitors

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Sites reopen > Valles Caldera readies for fall activities

By Tris DeRoma

After a 16-day closure due to the government shutdown, Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve have unlocked the gates and reopened for business.

According to Park Ranger Chris Judson, Bandelier’s noon opening on Thursday was greeted enthusiastically.

“We opened at noon and people just poured in,” Judson said late last week. “They were apparently just happy to be here. We had so many folks yesterday. And we had lots and lots of people today–hundreds.”

The Bandelier shuttle did not start running again until Friday. Judson reported that the small parking lot at the visitor center was full within two hours of opening on Thursday.

“People seem to be so happy and so interested and just enjoying it so much,” Judson said. “And it’s really lucky that if it had to be now —it is such a shame that we missed Balloon Fiesta — the trees down here are still golden, they’re still so resplendent. Usually there’s been a hard frost by now, and the leaves aren’t yellow any more. So visitors didn’t miss the whole terrific time of the fall.”

The park had to cancel its annual Fall Fiesta due to the shutdown.

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