Tag Archives: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Three National Parks, Two Great States, One Amazing Road Trip: Pt 1 New Mexico

We set out early on a Thursday morning in June.  I enjoyed the first day’s twelve hour drive overall, mostly in anticipation of the trip ahead and the fact that I always love a good road trip.  There are plenty of places in Texas I would like to visit and share with you, but this time I am skipping straight to our first stop, Santa Fe, NM.  If you have ever driven through West Texas, you’ll understand my omission here.  There are some interesting places to see in West Texas, but none of them are along the main roads and our goal was to make Santa Fe by early evening.

We chose Santa Fe as our first stop not only for it’s funky charm or that the city itself breathes art and history, but also for it’s close proximity to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.  I read about this hike on The Blonde Coyote. If you are planning a road trip, I highly recommend her blog.   After reading her post on Tent Rocks, we made this stop a priority on our way to Colorado.  As it turns out, this side note excursion was one of the highlights of our trip.  With it’s narrow slot canyon trail, unique rock formations and then final ascent to the mesa top for a seemingly endless view which includes the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, and Sandia Mountains, the Rio Grande Valley, as well as a bird’s eye view of the canyon trail and tent rock formations, there is little left to be desired.

View of the mesa top from the trailhead.

 We didn’t tell the girls we would end up at the top.  There are times when you know ignorance is bliss.  In the end, they were proud of what they accomplished and impressed by the spectacular view, but I think we all agreed, the best part of the hike was through the narrow slot canyon.

Entrance to Slot Canyon Trail

That’s a doorway to enchantment if I’ve ever seen one.  Even now, I see a world ahead of mystery and adventure.  The only thing I would have changed is the amount of time we spent here.  There are a few more hikes in the area we would have liked to explore, one of which leads to a hand carved ancestral cave dwelling, but the Million Dollar Highway was calling from up ahead and reminding us we needed daylight to enjoy the famous scenic drive.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks was designated a national monument in January, 2001.  The hoodoos (or cone shaped tent rocks) and the adjacent meandering slot canyon are products of tremendous volcanic explosions that left behind layers of pumice, ash and tuff over 1,000 feet thick. Over time, wind and water have patiently sculpted the work of art existing here today.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the area was inhabited by ancestors of The Pueblo de Cochiti who still live in the surrounding area.  Tent Rocks National Monument is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in partnership with the Pueblo de Cochiti, The University of New Mexico, and Sandoval County.

Almost there!

We made it to the top!

We took a break on the mesa top and enjoyed the view for a while.  Then we hiked back down the way we came, through the slot canyon to the trailhead for a picnic lunch.  The canyon was a cool relief from the midday sun.  Soon we were on the road to Colorado knowing we would come back to Tent Rocks someday and that next time, we’d stay a little longer.

Next stop: Ouray, Colorado!