Over the past week I have received more than a dozen queries about Bandelier National Monument’s credibility as a location for Forrest’s chest. The people who question it recognize its position on the map in relation to Santa Fe and want to know why folks would bother looking in a place in that direction.
I cannot speak to why people do things but I can speak about why I have never considered Bandelier a likely spot.
Bandelier National Monument, in north central New Mexico, is not a place, in my opinion, where any serious searcher should consider looking. The reason I say that is because of clues Forrest has given and a basic understanding of general navigational theory and Forrest’s background.
Forrest has said that the chest is located “in the mountains north of Santa Fe”. He has recently added two qualifiers to that statement:
- It’s in the Rocky Mountains
- It’s not directly north but in a northerly direction from Santa Fe.
There is a post on this blog that talks about the definition of the area considered to be in the Rocky Mountains and Bandelier National Monument certainly seems to qualify as within the Rocky Mountain Range with its position at the southern end of the Jemez Range of mountains which the US Geological Survey classifies as the southern extent of the Rocky Mountains. So criteria to qualify under statement number 1 appear to be met.
It’s criteria to meet statement number two that seems lacking. Let me explain.
We all know that some searchers have drawn a 360 degree line north from Santa Fe and used that as the marker for “north of Santa Fe”. It must fall on this line they have argued. After hearing that argument for the umteenth time Forrest finally made a clarifying statement. “It’s not directly north but in a northerly direction from Santa Fe.”, he proclaimed. In this statement rests the crux of my argument.
To begin, we need to have an idea of what “northerly” means. Look at the compass rose below.
As you know the cardinal points of a compass are North, East, South and West. Between NW and NE is considered Northerly. Between NW and SW is considered Westerly…and so on. Forrest would be very familier with this concept as an aviator. So given this basic principle lets examine the positions of Santa Fe and Bandelier National Monument on a map.
This is a map of a north central area of New Mexico that includes both Bandelier and Santa Fe. You can click on the map to make it larger on your screen. Running between Santa Fe and Bandelier is a blue line. This line represents latitude 35˚45.268. This is the approximate northern latitude of the city limit of Santa Fe. I used the City’s Zoning Map as a reference to find the northern city limit. If we take that line all the way across to Bandelier you can see that about one third of Bandelier does not fall north of the northern Santa Fe city limit. However, Forrest said that we must consider the area in the Rocky Mountains in a NORTHERLY direction from Santa Fe.
Remember that NORTHERLY includes all the area on the compass from NW to NE. The pink area on the map shows that area. It is fan shaped and gets wider the further north you travel. Bandelier is clearly Westerly of Santa Fe, it is not Northerly of Santa Fe. If Bandelier was even close to being Northerly from Santa Fe I would consider it…but it is not.
Finally, there is another reason not to consider Bandelier. That is because Forrest does not mention it in any of the stories in his book, not even in the stories on his blog and not in any interview that I have listened to. Clearly, Bandelier is not a special place to him, and remember that Forrest has said he hid the chest in a place that is “special” to him.
So for me, Bandelier and other areas in a westerly, easterly or southerly direction cannot possibly be the location of the chest.