The cool, clear, brisk days of late fall is the best time of year to visit Tent Rocks, a favorite day trip of mine, and a fantastic place to take the kids. An adventure of slot canyons and whimsical rock formations that look like tents, or if you are hungry, dollops of vanilla ice cream. (Otherwise known as Hoodoos- a product of volcanic eruptions 6-7 million years ago leaving pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1000’ thick).
Kasha-Katawe Tent Rocks was established as a National Monument by presidential proclamation in January, 2001, by President Bill Clinton. This proclamation reserves and protects approximately 4,148 acres. It is currently managed by BLM.
Human settlement of the area is believed to have begun in the monument as a series of campsites during the Archaic period from approximately 5500 B.C. During the fifteenth century, several large ancestral pueblos were established in the area. Their descendants, the Pueblo de Cochiti, still inhabit the surrounding area.
It’s important to follow all of the posted rules- no animals/dogs allowed and absolutely no climbing on the tent rocks. This is a sacred location for the local Native Americans. Please be respectful of all rules to ensure this monument stays open to the public for all to enjoy.
To get there, take I-25 to exit 259 for Santa Domingo/Cochiti Lake Recreation Area and head West of Highway 22. This road passes through several pueblo communities. Please be sure to obey all speed limit signs.
Just past the Cochiti Dam spillway will be a sign, directing you to turn left through the pueblo, continuing on highway 22 (now heading South). The turn off is well marked (mile marker 12).
(Images below taken from Google Maps, Street View)
After this turn, you will pass through the Cochiti Pueblo. Photography, drawings, and recordings are not permitted within the Pueblo. Observe the posted speed limit to reduce dust and noise at the Pueblo.
Once in the Pueblo, the road turns to Pueblo Road 85. Turn right at Indian Service Road 92. Once again, there are plenty of signs leading you to Kasha-Katawe Tent Rocks.Indian Service Road 92 was paved in recent years, so it’s an easy drive out to the monument.
Entrance to Tent Rocks National Monument:It appears the monument was closed the day the Google Earth car drove out to take images. Please note, the monument is closed on several holidays.
Fall/Winter (November 1 to March 10) 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Gates close at 4:00 p.m.
Spring/Summer (March 11 to October 31) 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Gates close at 6:00 p.m.
Holiday Closure Dates:
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Eve
- Christmas Day
- New Year’s Day
- Easter (closed 7am – 1pm), entry to the monument is free for the remainder of the day.
After the pay station the parking lot and picnic area will be approximately 5 miles down the road on the right. There are several well maintained restrooms in the parking area. Head North to the trailhead.
There are two main hiking trails-
The web now has available fantastic interactive maps provided by ArcGIS- click here for interactive trail map.
Slot Canyon Trail should be your priority-it is a 1.5 mile trek (one-way) that has a total rise of over 600 feet. While it is steep and narrow in some spots, the majority of the hike is reasonably flat. It is WELL worth the effort- and has been traveled several times with my young children. There is plenty of interest to capture your attention during this hike.
The end of the trail includes a steep incline to the top of the canyon with amazing views of the the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, and Sandia Mountains as well as the Rio Grande Valley. It is best to travel this trail before the first snow fall of the season if you are traveling with small children or anyone who should be especially careful. The natural ‘steps’ up are facing North so even on warm spring days, there is still a bit of snowpack.
The Cave Loop Trail is an easy 1.2 mile loop with views of several hoodoo formations and small caves along the canyon walls.
Fees as of Nov 2016
- Private Vehicles – $5
Up to 25 individuals – $25
25-100 individuals – $100
No fee. Day-use permit required from BLM. Click here for more information.
- Commercial Tours and Non-Profit Organizations:
Specials-use permit required from BLM. Please contact Rio Puerco Field Office at 505-761-8700
- America the Beautiful Pass – Present at entrance
- Sold and issued at entrance:
- Senior Pass – $10
- Annual Pass – $80
- Military Annual Pass – Free
- Access Pass – Free
For the most up to date information, visit the BLM Website
Extend your trip!
For a weekend trip, you could camp, fish, and kayak at the Cochiti Lake Recreation area and spend a day at the Cochiti Pueblo golf course.
Campsites as Cochiti Lake can be reserved here:
If you are like me and you get so excited to hit the road that you forgot to fill up the gas tank, there is a gas station in Cochiti- just continue west toward the Cochiti Lake Recreation Area prior to turning South on Highway 22.