Tent Rocks

When we travel to a city, we try to find a nice outdoors activity for a day.  This country offers so much beautiful natural landscapes, mostly unknown, that would be a shame to miss out.

We drove a couple hours to the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. 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.

This place was established as a U.S. National Monument by President Bill Clinton in January 2001 shortly before leaving office

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.

Over time, weathering and erosion of these layers has created canyons and tent rocks.

The 3-mile round trip on the Canyon Trail first takes you along a sandy path through a mixture of evergreens and desert landscape.

The name Kasha-Katuwe, meaning “white cliffs,” comes from the traditional Keresan language of the Cochiti Pueblo inhabitants who live nearby.

The 630 feet of elevation gain to the top of the mesa was a little hard, but the views were worth it!

The views from the top! don’t let Sarah confuse you about the weather, it was not thaaaat cold to justify being dressed like an artic expedition.

This is the postcard photo everybody takes of this place.

There was a short hike at the bottom that takes you to the cave!! It is so high off the ground because apparently ancestral Native Americans preferred caves that were above ground level because they stayed dry during storms, were more difficult for animals to enter and provided a view of the surrounding territory in case of enemy attack. The small size of the cave opening is because ancestral Native American adults were shorter than they are today.

We walked back to the car parking lot to get back to Albuquerque, tomorrow we would go back home!

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