Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks NM

From the BLM info page:

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a remarkable outdoor laboratory, offering an opportunity to observe, study, and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes.  The National Monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, includes a national recreation trail and ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level.  It is for foot travel only, and contains two segments that provide opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, geologic observation, and plant identification.

The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick.  Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.”

Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below.  Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks, and are disintegrating.  While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet up to 90 feet.

 

We went at the end of April and it snowed!  I realize this is not amazing for the area, but it was for some folks from Alabama.  We loved it.

The hike winds through a slot canyon (The Slot Canyon Trail) and climbs about 600 feet to an overlook, coming back down, another trail, the Cave Loop Trail, goes through more of the rock formations (and past a cave) and ends up back at the parking area for a total of about 3 miles.

This is a  very visited area, I recommend going as close to opening hour as possible, 7 in the summer and 8 in the winter.  It’s $5 at the gate per family vehicle.
More info can be found here for planning a visit.  We had the place to ourselves the day we went because of the snow.  Footing is good along the trails and there are not any points that you are looming near the edge. For folks like me, who don’t want to imagine their own plummeting death while enjoying a view.

 

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