New Mexico's Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Canyon Trail—with its otherworldly rock formations—is one of those mysteriously under-the-radar gems of the U.S.
I'll admit: I'd never heard of these Tent Rock things before. But as soon as I booked our weekend in Santa Fe and started Googling nearby spots, the unusual, cone-shaped rock formations in Cochiti Pueblo caught my attention.
In the last few years, the saturated landscapes of the Arizona have emerged all over the Insta—but next door, its humble neighbor New Mexico is home to underrated geological beauty.
Located on the Indian reservation of Cochiti Pueblo, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is about a 50-minute drive west from the city of Santa Fe and an hour northeast of Albuquerque.
We arrived by 9 a.m., feeling lucky for a cloudy day, and started on the slightly longer of the two hikes—the Tent Rocks Canyon Trail, a total of 3 miles out-and-back. (The Cave Loop trail is an easier, flatter mile with similar rocks but less scenic views.)
The beginning of the Canyon Trail starts out flat, and as you get farther up, light beige rock striped with faded orange bands grow increasingly tall around you.
You’ll work your way into the canyon, scrambling through a narrow slot with curvy, striated rock walls on either side of you.
If you get an early start, the slot canyon is relatively quiet—we were alone most of the time as we wound our way through the shaded passageways.
Dry shrubs dot the landscape, accented by the occasional bunch of pink wildflowers and prickly pear cacti.
Once the canyon opens back up, you’ll hike up past the tent rocks—mushroom-like sandstone formations with pointy caps made of pumice, ash, and tuff deposits left from 6-7 million years ago.
The final ascent is a 630-foot climb up to a mesa, where you’re rewarded with panoramic views of Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains, and the Rio Grande Valley.
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Price : $5 per vehicle
Opening hours : Entry is allowed between 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. (closing procedures begin at 3:30 p.m.) Arriving early is best though—by 11 a.m., there was an hour-long wait for cars to get into the lot.
For more info on the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Canyon Trail, visit the official site of the Bureau of Land Management.