Kasha-Katuwe/Tent Rocks Expedition
For an extraordinary hike in the Santa Fe area I highly recommend Kasha-Katuwe, better known as Tent Rocks. My daughter and I went today and were once again blown away by the scenic beauty. There you will see incredible geologic formations in the shape of tee-pees, known as hoodoos, which are the result of volcanic eruptions from 6-7 million years ago. Make your way through the narrow canyons and paths between these formations and marvel at the striated colors of grey, beige and pink, the result of uniform volcanic layering.
There are two hiking options: The Cave Loop and Slot Canyon. The Cave Loop, just 1.2 miles long, is considered an easy hike. - some portions are even ADA accessible. The Slot Canyon Trail, which is 3 miles in length, is quite steep and narrow in parts, and thus requires a certain level of agility. You will definitely want to wear decent shoes (we wore running shoes and they worked perfectly, as they have more flexible soles than hiking boots). At its apex The Canyon Trail offers an extraordinary vista of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez and Sandia mountains, as well as the Rio Grande Valley, and is certainly worth the effort.
Except when you are in the canyons there is no shade, so you will want to wear a hat and sunscreen, and bring plenty of water with you. My other tip on Tent Rocks is to go early in the day to avoid the crowds and for ease of parking. The gates open at 8am, which is the optimal time to go during the warmer months of the year. Going later than 9am during peak tourist season could cause delays in getting a parking spot, and you will not have the optimal feeling of quiet wonder in this magnificent setting. During cooler months you will be happier going a bit later in the day, once the temperatures have climbed a bit.
There is a nominal charge of $5 per vehicle, making this a very affordable outing.