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Kasha-Katuwe: Tent Rocks National Monument

A Short Guide To: Tent Rocks National Monument

(be sure to check out the slide show at the bottom)

It is a place for hiking and birding, sure, but this is also a good place to just sit and do nothing.

tent rocks national monument
The Hoodoos of Tent Rocks

I like those kind of places.

Located at about 6,000 feet (1900 meters) on the eastern edge of the Pajarito Palteau in central New Mexico the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument hosts one of the more remarkable landscapes in North America.

The 10-90 foot tall hoodoos (those cone-shaped formations) that typify the National Monument are the results of the erosion of seven million year-old volcanic pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1000 feet thick. Back in the day, the Jemez volcano exploded in pyroclastic cataclysms several times – raining burning rock and searing gasses for hundreds of miles around. Over time, these tremendous deposits of volcanic material built up.  And then they began to erode, creating basins, arroyos, amphitheater-like ravines, box canyons and gentle semi-circles and swirls and hang effortlessly in the sky.

tent rocks national monument
Boulder Capped Hoodoos

Most beautiful perhaps, are the hard-rock boulders that top most of the hoodoos.  You have to wonder how they stay up there. By capping the softer pumice underneath, they’ve tapered the erosion thus allowing for the formation of the hoodoos.  You can see that, when the hoodoo loses its hat it begins to erode much more quickly.

tent rocks national monument
Layers of Volcanic Deposits

Hiking in and out of the canyons and arroyos, you can see the layers of volcanic material and the order with which they were laid down. You may also come across the black volcanic glass known as obsidian, a favorite material the ancients used for projectile points.


If You Visit:

How to get there: Tent Rocks is located 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe and 55 miles northeast of Albuquerque, with the most direct access from Interstate 25.

Hours: Winter Hours: (November 1 to March 10) 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Gates close at 4:00 P.M.  Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Summer Hours: (March 11 to October 31) 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Gates close at 6:00 P.M.

Trails: A National Recreational Trail runs through a good portion of the monument and is broken into two easy segments, one 1.2-mile long and the other a 1.5-mile walk into a canyon then up to a mesa top for a spectacular view of the monument and a good portion of central New Mexico too!

Camping and RV Hookup Available

Rest Rooms: available at trail-head and in camping and RV-hook up areas.

Fees: Private vehicles – $5

Other: While the road to the monument is paved the trails will be challenging to the mobility-challenged.

More information: Bureau of Land Management – Rio Puerco Field Office: 505-761-8700  and download the brochure here.

Maps available here and here here.


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