Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is located on Cochiti Pueblo land a mere 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe and 50 miles northwest of Albuquerque. Kasha-Katuwe means white cliffs in Keresan, one of the ancient Pueblo dialects. It is one of our newest National Monuments having received its designation in 2001.
This amazing wonderland of surreal rock formations includes hoodoos, towers, pinnacles, chunky boulders balanced atop slender spires and bizarre cone formations that look like row upon row of tipis. There are sheer cliffs, winding ravines, a sun-bleached slot canyon you can easily walk through and the ground is littered with the shiny flakes of black obsidian known as Apache tears.
Take either of the two well-traveled trails and you’ll see wild flowers, twisted pines and junipers, all sorts of birds and enough exposed layers of rock to keep even the most serious geology geek smiling.
Created by the erosion of volcanic material deposited by massive eruptions more than six million years ago – a heartbeat in geological time – the formations consist of pumice, tuff and ash. The landscape is so other-worldly, the science fiction series Earth 2 used it as a filming location. The kinds of formations at Kasha-Katuwe are not found anywhere else in the southwest.
The longer of the two trails is rated as moderate in terms of diffculty. Although, in all honesty, it’s pretty steep at the end as it winds its way up the canyon wall. The altitude increases from 5570 to 6760 feet above sea level as you travel from the beginning of the trail to the canyon rim. The reward for climbing to the top is the stunning views of the Sangre de Cristos and the Jemez Mountains in the distance. The shorter trail does not include a steep climb and it passes a man-made cave dug into the soft cliff side. If you’re up to it, do both.
Whatever you do, bring plenty of water and don’t forget your camera! The shots in this post were all taken on a balmy April afternoon. Scroll down for more pictures.
Plan Your Visit
The park is generally open daily. It is also open year round although there can be road and/or trail problems if there has been a lot of snow, rain or there are forest fires in the area.
The Cochiti Pueblo occasionally closes Kasha-Katuwe for private celebrations or religious activities. If you need more information – and it’s always a good idea to check on conditions and make sure the site is open – visit their website or call 505-331-6259.
No bikes or motorized vehicles.
The trails are for hiking only and neither is handicapped accessible
There are bathrooms in parking lot.
There is an admission charge. Find out more about that here.
From Albuquerque, head north on I-25 and take the exit for Santo Domingo/Cochiti Lake Recreation Area (Exit 259) off I-25 onto NM 22. Follow the signs on NM 22 to Cochiti Pueblo and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
From Santa Fe, head south on I-25 and take the Cochiti Pueblo Exit 264 off I-25 onto NM 16. Turn right off NM 16 onto NM 22, and follow the signs to Cochiti Pueblo and the National Monument.