NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – When Balloon Fiesta gets washed out, thousands of visitors flock to other attractions across the state, like New Mexico’s National Parks.
“It’s a busy time for us, October. The first two weeks in October and of course Spring Break which is oh gosh, March through April,” Joanie Budzileni, the Public Information Officer for Bandelier National Monument said.
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Bandelier in Los Alamos sees 170,000 visitors a year, many of them during Balloon Fiesta and the weeks after. But some parts of the popular tourist site will be under construction during their busy season. Bridge repairs and replacements will be done throughout the park, closing off certain trails and the famous Alcove House, a partial cave known for its beauty and history.
“Sometimes we have to juggle, one should be closed down, a trail or facility, and there’s really not a great time because Bandelier is so popular,” Budzileni said.
She says the timing may not be ideal, but the funding came in so it’s now or never. But it’s not just Bandelier. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument near the Cochiti Pueblo is missing its second Balloon Fiesta in a row. They shut down more than two years ago because of COVID protocols and construction but still couldn’t reopen for their busiest time of year.
Down south, several wilderness areas and backcountry trails are still closed at Carlsbad Caverns National Park after flooding damaged the area in late August. There are still no words on when those will be reopened.
“It just means that we’re going to have to explain things to visitors and ask things for their patience,” Budzileni said.
The Bandelier projects and repairs are expected to last until June 2023.