Once Upon a Time I Hiked Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

National Recreational Trail

Photo by Barbara H. Butler, March 14, 2004

The Tent Rock trail is part of National Recreational Trail Program and has two foot traffic only segments. The 1.2 mile Cave Loop Trail, which we took first, is relatively easy. It is seen here winding along the base of the mesa.

The longer (1.5 mile each way) Canyon Trail is more difficult. It climbs steeply to the top of the mesa with a 630 foot elevation change. We started up but had to stop when we ran into the snow in the slot canyon (see below).

Photo by Barbara H. Butler, March 14, 2004

Glen Porter and Elizabeth

While visiting Barbara Butler and Glenn Porter at their new home in Placitas, New Mexico, we visited the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. The national monument is administered by the Bureau of Land Management and is roughly an hour north of Albuquerque.

Glenn and I are about to set off down the canyon trail with Barbara who is taking this shot. Behind us is the BLM trail marker.

Barbara Butler (red) and Elizabeth

Glenn documented Barbara and me as the three of us were about to set off on the Kasha-Katuwe trail. 

Kasha-Katuwe means "white cliffs" in Keresan, which is a family of languages spoken by members of the nearby Acoma, Cochiti, Laguna, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, and Zia pueblos.

The Kasha-Katuwes were created by the combination vulcanism and erosion, which over ages has built up and then torn down the formations.



Photo by Barbara H. Butler, March 14, 2004

Photo by Barbara H. Butler, March 14, 2004


Elizabeth in Slot Canyon

The BLM writes, "During the last million years, a tremendous volcanic explosion northwest of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks spewed rock and ash for hundreds of square miles, leaving volcanic debris up to 400 feet thick. Over time, water cut into these deposits, creating canyons, arroyos and other area features. The cone-shaped rock formations are wind- and water-eroded pumice and tuff deposits. Their hard, erosion-resistant caprocks protect the softer "tents" below. While uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.

There is always a tinge of excitement when hiking a slot canyon because there is in each an element of danger. Tales abound of hikers caught in one during a flash flood which are notorious in the South West. As Cliff Wasserman writes of slot canyons, "Indeed, a broken ankle in this part of the country can spell certain doom for the unprepared. There is no water, nothing to eat, and rattlesnakes hiding behind the rocks just waiting to punish you for entering their domain. And if that's not enough, a storm miles away can release a torrent of water through the canyon, sweeping everything in it's path into oblivion."

Approaching the Canyon

Photo by Barbara H. Butler, March 14, 2004

Click here for more information about the National Recreational Trail at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico