Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument - Sean and Mittie
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Sean and Mittie | Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

After a week in Santa Fe, staying on the Northeast side of the city up in the mountains off Hyde park road, taking my nightly walks and listening to the coyotes howl, but spending my days cranking out articles in different cafes; I was ready for a hike. It’s funny how we can be surrounded by nature but forget to disconnect and get out in it until we make a conscious effort. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument was calling to me and I didn’t even know it yet.

My parents were staying at Las Palomas B&B, a lovely series of historical properties with delicious breakfast to order and an incredibly helpful staff suggested the Tent Rocks Canyon trail and cave loop, approximately 3.5 miles and ending with jaw-dropping views. When I showed up in flip-flops, Tina kindly advised me to change shoes for the tight, rocky path. So, we headed out to see what it was all about.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, designated a national monument in 2001, is an incredible series of caves, tent rocks and mesas stretching across Cochiti Pueblo land southwest of Santa Fe. The landscape borders on shocking; it looks like a scene from another planet. Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in Keres, the language of the Cochitil Pueblo people. The Jemez Mountains erupted millions of years ago creating the eerie cliffs, depositing pumice and ash in the valley.

The gentle, winding cave loop took us through narrow, sandy passages, ducking beneath boulders and admiring the seemingly painted cave walls, striated with different colors from bone to rust. Then climbing up, scrambling over pieces of loose rock surrounded by ponderosa pines, piñones and juniper trees. As we got higher up, staggering views of colorful mesas framed the bizarrely shaped tent rocks, stone sculptures springing up out of the sand.

The final stretch of the trail, spotted with cacti and wildflowers, surprised us with a tiny visitor …a toad! We stood and admired it for a bit while it tried to burrow beneath the rocks and sand, away from our prying eyes. At the top the breeze whipped around us, wicking off our sweat and inspiring us with more epic views. My parents, having come from sea-level, inspired me with their energy and spunk even at the peak of the mountain.

Highly recommended! It’s a beautiful hike. If you’re in the Santa Fe area, check it out! Have you been? Tell us about it in the comments below.