It is funny how sometimes we travel far and wide to seek unusual sights, yet similar sights could be seen closer to home.
Just a short distance from Santa Fe, New Mexico, we came upon the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, with geological formations so similar to the fairy chimneys, the tall cone shaped formations, located at the Cappadocia region in the middle of Turkey.
From Santa Fe, this very accessible national monument is about a forty minutes drive away. From I-25, take exit 264, the Cochiti Pueblo exit onto NW Route (SR) 16. Turn right off SR 16 onto SR 22 and follow signs to Cochiti Pueblo.
The US bureau of Land Management manages Kasha-Katuwe in cooperation with the Pueblo de Cochiti.
At the ranger station/toll booth, we were able to use our US National Park Annual Pass for the entrance fee. Otherwise, it would have been $5 for each private vehicle.
A short drive pass the ranger station are three parking lots for vehicles. It was quite busy on this day of our visit but we managed to locate one of the remaining vacant parking spots.A short walk from the parking lot is the trail head to 3 hiking options, a 1.2 miles Cave Loop Trail, the Slot Canyon Trail at 1.0 miles, or hike the Slot Canyon Trail but instead of returning the same way, continue on a steep climb to the summit for not only a beautiful view of the tent formations from atop, but also a panorama view of the entire area.We took the Slot Canyon plus summit option. As it was only mid-morning, the lighting was perfect for photos while hiking the narrow canyon, similar to the slot canyons in the Utah state.The hike to the summit required a bit of uphill climbing, but the uphill section was quite short, well maintained, so was not too strenuous. There was a cool breeze on the morning of our hike so the dry heat was quite tolerable.
The entire hike, slot canyon, summit, walking and taking photos along the summit’s ridge was just over two hours return.
On the hike, we met old and young hikers alike. Some hike the entire trail like us, but some just hiked the slot canyon portion without hiking up to the summit.
There were supposed to be animals in the area but we did not spot any; only many interesting plants, some familiar, some very strange and interesting. The familiar bright red Indian Paint Brush flower that blooms during August in British Columbia was in full bloom here.After we completed the Slot Canyon and Summit hike, we wanted to drive to the other landmark in this park, the Veteran Memorial Scenic Overlook. There is supposed to be a scenic lookout and picnic area there, plus an one mile loop trail. However, there was a closed gate blocking off that area of the park.
This was a perfect stop on route our morning drive from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. A great hike, and the views were breathtaking. It would be a good excursion for visitors to Santa Fe or Albuquerque who enjoy the outdoor and nature.