LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — A bountiful wildflower bloom at Bandelier National Monument is drawing some early risers who want to avoid the midday crowds, and the visitors center is responding to accommodate them. Starting Sunday, the visitor center will open a half-hour earlier at 8:30 a.m. Acting Superintendent Dennis Milligan said that will give staff more time to hand out information on trails and safety.
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The Southwest has been inundated with rain during the monsoon season, bolstering wildflowers. Mariposa lilies, harebells and shooting stars are abundant along trails like the Cerro Grande and Alamo Boundary at Bandelier.
Monument officials say the massive wildflower bloom should last for several more weeks. They say visitors should feel free to photograph the flowers but don’t pick them so others can enjoy the view.
Visitation to the monument that features canyons and ancient cliff dwellings dropped drastically during the pandemic. Officials said they’re now seeing a 157% increase in visitation since 2019.