Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, an “out-of-this-world” natural attraction.
New Mexico has a number of attractions that simply feel “out of this world.” White Sands comes to mind, as well as The Very Large Array. You can add Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument to that list. Truthfully, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks is perhaps the least known of these three, but in some ways, is the most rewarding. It demands more of you physically to sample its best features, but that extra effort is well rewarded.
This fascinating natural exhibit is located just 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe and 55 miles northeast of Albuquerque, Tent Rocks is easily accessible from I-25, with plenty of signs to guide you along your way. The origin of its name, Tent Rocks, is immediately apparent on first sight. There are legions of cone shaped rock formations rising from the valley floor to nearly 100 feet in height. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks is adorned with a designer’s palette of beautifully coordinated beige, pink and white colors.
To gain the best view of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks requires a bit of hiking. There are a few things to keep in mind here. First, no flip-flops or flimsy shoes. This hike demands good quality non-slip hiking shoes or boots (or even a sturdy pair of sneakers). Also bring water and sunscreen. There is no water on site. This is the high-desert and you are exposed to the sun. Finally, no dogs are allowed. Make these reasonable preparations and you will be well-equipped to see Tent Rocks from its most appealing vantage points.
There are two trails for exploring Tent Rocks. Canyon Trail (three miles round-trip) starts with an easy hike through a narrow, contoured arroyo. As you emerge from this gorge the trail starts to climb steeply for 630 feet to the top of the mesa. If you have a fear of heights, you may decide to turn around before reaching the top of the mesa. Don’t feel bad, you’ll probably have some company in doing so.
The second trail is the Cave Loop Trail. This does not have the steep ascent and heart-pumping heights of the Canyon Trail but still offers excellent views of Tent Rocks. You take the Canyon Trail for the first half-mile and then turn left at the junction (you will see the sign for Cave Loop Trail). This is a fairly level hike that takes you to cave dwellings used by ancestral Native Americans. This 1.2 mile trail loop will take you back to the parking lot.
Be careful to avoid touching or brushing against the Cholla cactus you may find growing in spots along the Cave Loop Trail. Its tiny needles have barbed hairs that quickly enter the skin and can be quite painful and difficult to remove.
With a little preparation (good hiking shoes and water) you will be ready to get the best from Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument!
Click the link below for the official Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument Website: