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Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike, New Mexico

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a land of spectacular and bizarre rock shapes in the southwestern foothills of New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains, near Cochiti Pueblo. Furthermore, it is a National Monument since 2001, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike is a fantastic adventure. It allows you to see the unique geologic formation known as Tent Rocks.

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stunning hoodoos rock formations  along Tent Rocks Hike

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike – Our Experiences

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike is a great idea for a day trip from Albuquerque or Santa Fe. It is one of the best hikes in New Mexico. It’s only about a 3-mile one-way moderate loop trail through a slot canyon with hoodoos and striated rock formations that seem like cones or teepees.

Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs.” Furthermore, it is a religious site of the Cochiti Pueblo. So, in this article, we give you all the details to help prepare for this fantastic experience, which is the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike. We share our tips and experiences, as my partner Chris and I have visited this place personally. We made all the hiking trails in Kasha-Katuwe. Moreover, we took all the pictures presented in this article.

Trip Tip: Before going to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, check the official park website to see if it’s open. It was closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last update from August 30, 2023, said the Monument remains closed to the public. Access along NM22 is currently limited to tribal members only to reduce COVID-19 exposure to the gateway community of Pueblo de Cochiti.

Alternatively, we recommend hiking in the Bandelier National Monument, hiking Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zi Wilderness, or exploring Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area (like Valley of Dreams or King of Wings hoodoo). Those are amazing places in New Mexico.

What is the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument?

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is located on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, between 5570 and 6760 feet above sea level. 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 rock fragments while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a pyroclastic flow. Furthermore, the Tent Rocks vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.

As a result of the uniform layering of volcanic material, bands of grey are interspersed with beige and pink-colored rock along the cliff face. Over the years, wind and water cut into these deposits, creating distinctive pointy hoodoos and the sinuous slot canyon. Finally, it was contouring inward ravines into smooth semicircles.

TRAVEL TIP: Before going, check the official website if Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is open.

Tent Rocks hoodoos in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

President Bill Clinton established the place as a U.S. National Monument in January 2001. It is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Kasha-Katuwe provides hiking, birdwatching, geologic observation, and plant identification opportunities. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a popular hiking destination from Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Hiking trails are for foot travel only.

If you do a Tent Rocks hike, you also go through a slot canyon and onto the mesa, leading to great views of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains. So, if you are looking for the best hikes in New Mexico, take the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks hike or Bandelier National Monument hikes.

orange walls in Slot Canyon in Kasha-Katuwe

Where is the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument?

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is located around 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, near Cochiti Pueblo. Albuquerque is about 54 miles north. So, it is perfect for a day trip from Santa Fe or Albuquerque.

hoodoos in Kasha-Katuwe
Kasha-Katuwe hoodoos

Directions To Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks

Directions from Santa Fe

From Santa Fe, you should head south on I-25. Take the Cochiti Pueblo Exit 264 off I-25 onto NM 16. Then turn right off NM 16 onto NM 22, and follow the signs to Cochiti Pueblo and the National Monument. It’s about 50 minutes of driving. Check accommodation in Santa Fe on the map below to get the best deals.

Directions from Albuquerque

From Albuquerque, you must head north on I-25. Take the exit for Santo Domingo/Cochiti Lake Recreation Area (Exit 259) off I-25 onto NM 22. Then follow the signs on NM 22 to Cochiti Pueblo and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. It’s about one hour drive from Albuquerque. Check accommodation in Albuquerque below to get the best deals.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument – Hours of Operation

Before you go to the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike, you must know that it has short opening hours. So, plan your time properly. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is open from 8 am to 4 pm.

Closing procedures begin at 3:30 pm, so visitors must be out of the fee booth gated area by closing time. It is a day-use-only area. The park has no campground, and primitive camping is not allowed. The Monument is closed to dogs. Check the official website for any updates.

Kasha-Katuwe hoodoos

Furthermore, The place is closed several days a year to allow Pueblo de Cochiti cultural observances. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is closed on: 

  • New Year’s Day 
  • January 6
  • Friday before Easter
  • Easter Sunday
  • Monday after Easter
  • May 3
  • July 13-14
  • July 25
  • November 1
  • Thanksgiving Day 
  • Christmas Day

Are you interested in Pueblos & the Native American community in New Mexico? Check out our post about the famous Taos Pueblo.

slot canyon walls
slot canyon walls
tent rocks hoodoos

Entrance Fee to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Private Vehicles – $5
Groups: up to 25 individuals – $25
Groups: 25-100 individuals – $100

Tent Rocks National Monument with trees and hoodoos formations.

It can get crowded on the weekend, so getting a parking spot is worth being earlier. Be patient with the gate guards. They won’t let you in until a space is available for you to park. There are restrooms and picnic tables in the parking area.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike

The Kasha-Katuwe National Monument includes two short trails.

  • The Cave Loop Trail is 1.2 miles long, and it’s easy. The second and one of the best hikes in New Mexico is Slot Canyon Trail. It is called the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike.
  • There is only one trailhead to Slot Canyon Trail and Cave Loop Trail. So, go straight to the Slot Canyon. And in the end, on your return, add Cave Loop Trail if you will have time. If you put them together in this way, it’s only 3.1 miles one way.

Slot Canyon Trail is around a 2.8-mile, one-way trek into a narrow canyon with a steep (630-feet) climb to the mesa top. Furthermore, it offers excellent views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains, and the Rio Grande Valley.

However, during heavy rain, flooding in the canyon is risky. So, check the weather before you go. Do not hike if there is any danger of flash floods in the slot canyon, especially in monsoon season (mid-June to mid-September).

slot canyon orange wall

How Long Does It Take To Hike Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks?

The primary hike, which goes to the top, can be done in 60 to 90 minutes, depending on your physical condition and how often you stop to take photos or enjoy the view.

Agnes Stabinska, the author, next to the tree during Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks hike. He is wearing hiking boots, jeans, warm hoodie and hat, and has trekking poles in her hands.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike Description

Slot Canyon

The first half of the trail is winds through a shady slot canyon. The slot has beautiful examples of rock strata, hoodoos, the effects of wind and water. It is so narrow you can touch the walls on either side. Moreover, you might have to walk sideways.

You can feel the cold and damp walls, their smooth surfaces. When you lift your head, you will see Tent Rocks looks like a rocket. The forces of water and wind continue to carve hoodoos from the cliffs. As the trail continues beyond the slot canyon, the hoodoos become larger and more varied in shape.

There are a few obstructions along the way, so you’ll have some scrambles over some rocks blocking the path. The trail is the bottom of the wash, and looks like a tunnel. So be careful in case of heavy rain.

Agnes Stabinska, the author, in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
slot canyons walls
Agnes Stabinska the author during tent rocks slot canyon hike - she is between narrow walls.
Chris is hiking in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument between slot canyon walls.

Climbing To The Mesa Top

The trail switchesbacks 640 feet to the plateau. After 1.1 miles, it turns to the left to pass beneath some of the best formations. The canyon opens beneath the 90-foot conical hoodoos that give this National Monument its name.

It begins to climb steeply on a crumbly, eroding trail, with occasional scrambling required. There is a viewpoint just before mile 2. The trail continues to climb higher, out of the canyon. There is the second viewpoint at mile 2.1. It is a great view of the canyon and the surrounding formations.

There’s also a little balancing rock close by this vista. The path continues up and then down on the canyon rim. It’s about 0.3 miles to the final viewpoint. It’s worth it to go to the top. White cliffs are spectacular from the plateau.

From the top of the mesa, you overlook the slot canyon and Tent Rocks, as well as sweeping views of the Rio Grande River Valley to the east and the Jemez Mountains to the west.

The Mesa Top in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
view from Tent Rocks in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Return via The Cave Loop Trail

Return the way you came, but continue at the Cave Loop Trail junction. It intersects with the Slot Canyon Trail. On your return walk, the Cave Loop Trail is easy and short. It is relatively flat and has lovely views.

It is well-marked, with numerous warnings about snakes, the importance of staying on the trail, and the ban on rock collecting.

cave loop trail Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike – Check the Weather

When is the best time to visit the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument? We did the Tent Rocks hike in December 2019. It was cold but sunny and perfect weather for a walk. If you are going in the summer, take a plentiful water supply. There is shade in the slot canyon, so take a warm jacket.

The monsoon season runs from mid-June to mid-September. So, always check the weather or the forecast before you go—it is a slot canyon, so it is susceptible to flash flooding. Below, we have prepared charts with average temperatures and precipitation in the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

tent rocks weather
tent rocks weather

What To Bring For Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Hike?

Whether the trail is short or long, easy or demanding, you must always be prepared for your hike. Accidents happen, or the weather can change dramatically in a few minutes. That’s why we pack carefully, even for shorts and leisurely walks. Check out what to pack for a day hike in our separate article.

First, wear proper hiking shoes. Do not attempt this hike in flip-flops or even flimsy shoes. You need sturdy shoes with a good grip and tread.

It is a rattlesnake land, so be cautious. Protect your legs with pants. Make lots of noise with your feet, and don’t reach down near any stumps or logs. Hiking poles will be useful during this hike also.

Pack yourself in a comfortable backpack. You should have a hiking backpack with a lap belt so that it relieves your spine while climbing.

Watch your body while hiking. Even experienced hikers have weaker days. If you start to feel dizzy, disoriented, or nauseated, take a rest. Drink water, eat a salty and high-protein snack, and rest as long as you feel better.

slot canyon
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument


  1. Wow this is breathtaking. I have never heard of ten rocks trail until now but i will be sure to visit. The insides of the slot canyons are just stunning! thanks for sharing. i will be adding this to my bucket list 

  2. I would not have believed any rock formation could be like this if someone had just told me. Tent Rocks National Monument has as you mention truly bizarre rock shapes.Some of them are absolutely stunning. Although the climb is not too much in terms of distance I guess the key to success lies in the right preparations.

  3. I’m surprised the primary hike only takes 60-90 minutes! Thank you for giving an in-depth guide for those traversing the slot canyon. The view from the mesa top looks amazing!

  4. I enjoyed learning about the Tent Rocks hike. I’m used to seeing articles about places like the Wave and Havasu Falls, so it was nice to learn about somewhere new. I’m also glad it is only $5 to enter. I’ll tell you I went on a cross country road trip a few years back and wanted to stop by so many parks, but they were so darn expensive.

  5. hi 
    this is a picturesque location, I was literally drooling over the pics and imagining if I could ever have the opportunity of clicking out here. Having said that, it’s nice to know that the administrations and staff on site are very diligent in maintaining and preserving the place so that the natural beauty of it remains for years to come. What time does sunset happen over there? Is 430 not too early a time to close ,maybe an hour more so that the light tones come out real interesting from a photography perspective. what are you’re views on this? 

  6. I have seen pictures of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks on Instagram and I always thought it was a place in Africa because of the name Katuwe. I never knew it was a place in New Mexico. Anyway, This is a picture-perfect  place to go hiking and I like that you included the temperatures and best time to visit. You also included the list of essentials needed for the hike. That is genius and useful for us. Thank you.

  7. Wow, what lovely structures. I had never heard of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument . It was good to know about the background and the volcanic eruptions. The good part is that the hike doesn’t take long. The views are so worth the effort. Thanks for suggesting things to take for hike. 

  8. Love your blog! I would love to visit the Tent Rocks. It’s crazy how many cool places there are in New Mexico. I would definitely have to visit Slot Canyon and Mesa Top. I’d have endless fun!

  9. I have been mexico but after read this post i am thinking just missed this beuatiful rocking places i will try to visit these in next trip after lockdown

  10. What a cool walk to see the Kasha-Katuwe tent rocks.  They remind me of the Trulli houses in the Puglia region of Italy.  Great that this is a moderate hike that we could certainly do.  Definitely something to put on our list if we head back to New Mexico.  But we would want to plan our visit mid week when the crowds were smaller.  Who wants to share those views? 

  11. These sceneries are just incredibly beautiful. The formations are so unusual – I’d love to see them in person since that must be even more impressive. And since the hike is only moderate – I hope to be able to visit New Mexico soon.

  12. This hike looks amazing! It reminds me of the Slot Canyons in Arizona. I would love to visit New Mexico, it’s been on my list since I learned it has a Hot Air Balloon festival every year. Hopefully I can make it next year and I’ll definitely add this hike to my list. 

  13. Tent rocks national park looks super cool, and I would really love taking a photography walk around the place! It looks so photogenic, and I hope I get to visit it someday! 

  14. Beautiful place! And it’s interesting to see it under snow, usually I’d associate this type of hiking with extreme heat and dryness. I’d never even considered that hiking in winter may be favorable, but I do now!

  15. Wow these tent rock mountains and how they were formed is so interesting! They look phenomenal, am sure it must have been a hell of an experience! 

  16. The geology behind the tent rock formations is fascinating. I’m interested in how the trail offers such a variety of landscapes, from slot canyons to viewpoints overlooking the Rio Grande River Valley. How does the experience at Kasha-Katuwe compare to hiking in Bandelier National Monument, which you also recommend? Looking forward to your insights!

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