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3 Things to Do at Tent Rocks National Monument

If you’ve never been to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (commonly just called Tent Rocks), then this summer might be the perfect opportunity. This national monument, located approximately 40 miles south of Santa Fe and about an hour south of our Bed and Breakfast, is known for its iconic cone-shaped geological formations (aka, tents).

Tent Rocks is a beautiful part of New Mexico, and a great place to be at peace in nature. The most popular activity in the area is hiking, but it’s also a great place for birdwatching and naturalists, particularly those interested in geology. Our Bed and Breakfast is the perfect place to relax and unwind and offers unfettered access to some of the best attractions in Northern New Mexico.  Make yourself a priority this summer, and book a room at our New Mexico Bed and Breakfast.

A Guide to Tent Rocks National Monument

Tent Rocks National Monument is a geological wonder. It’s located on New Mexico’s Pajarito Plateau and is situated at an altitude of 5-7,000 feet above sea level.  The iconic tent-shaped formations were formed by the compression of pumice, ash, and tuff deposits from volcanic eruptions that occurred around 6-7 million years ago.

Tent Rocks National Monument

At Tent Rocks National Monument, there is a National Recreational Trail that is split into two segments.  It’s ideal for hiking, bird and wildlife viewing, and geological and plant observation.


There are two main hiking trails at Tent Rocks, which are really just two segments of the National Recreation Trail, and a 3rd wheelchair accessible loop. The first segment of the trail, commonly referred to as the Cave Loop Trail, is an easy 1.2-mile walk. There are a few sections of this trail that are accessible to wheelchairs.

The second segment of the trail, often referred to as the Slot Canyon Trail, is a little bit more difficult. It’s 1.5 miles long (one way), and makes the journey into a narrow, “slot” canyon with a steep (630-ft) climb to the top of the mesa.  Once there, you’ll see why the journey is so worth it.  The views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains, and the Rio Grande Valley are simply breathtaking.

The final trail in the area, the Veterans Trail, is a 1-mile loop that is wheelchair accessible.

Birds and Wildlife

The birds of Tent Rocks are fun to watch, and a great way to sit back and enjoy some time in nature this spring, summer, or fall. Birdwatching enthusiasts have been flocking to this area for years. The area is mostly inhabited by pinyon-juniper woodlands, which, of course, attracts a certain subset of birds. Still, more than 60 species have been recorded in this relatively small section of land.

Some birds are only present in the spring and winter, some only in the summer, and some all year round. It’s part of what keeps return visits to the monument interesting. Pack your binoculars and enjoy an afternoon of quiet birdwatching bliss.

Plants and Geology

A visit to the Tent Rocks National Monument is about so much more than just the geology of the area.  While that’s definitely worth seeing, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the natural forces that have shaped our landscape here in northern New Mexico, it’s not the only reason to visit. This area is also home to a wonderful variety of plants.

There are a number of unique ecosystems within the area, thanks to the varied terrain. From the depths of the canyon to the top of the Mesa, there are some distinctly different conditions, and, accordingly, a variety of interesting plants. The wildflowers here are particularly beautiful, peeking out from the rocks. You can find a detailed guide to the plants of Tent Rocks here, most of which will be in bloom from now through summer.

Tent Rocks National Monument

When to Go to Tent Rocks

The monument is open daily most days of the year from 8 am – 4 pm. It’s definitely a popular attraction near Santa Fe, and thus much busier during the summer months. When the parking lot gets to full and the area crowded, there can be entrance delays.  Getting there early during the popular summer months ensures less of a wait time, which can often be anywhere from 30 – 90 minutes during peak times.

If you’re in the summer, we recommend you go early in the day to beat both the crowds and the heat, and to enjoy the quiet, stunning nature without the hassle of crowds.  If you can, visiting in spring or fall means fewer crowds, too.

Where to Stay Near Santa Fe

There’s more to see and do in Northern New Mexico than you can possibly do in a short visit.  The area between Santa Fe and Taos is an amazingly rich and diverse area, both in natural beauty and culture.  Spending an afternoon at the Tent Rocks National Monument is just one of the many things you can do when you visit our New Mexico Bed and Breakfast.

Our Inn is located between both Santa Fe and Taos, making it the perfect home base from which to launch your adventures.  We offer a quiet respite out of the city, surrounded by quintessential New Mexico scenery.  Our Innkeeper will happily help you plan to enjoy the very best of northern New Mexico and will leave you with a lasting impression of this magical place that will leave you wanting more.

Come see what it means to experience New Mexico True. Book your room at our Bed and Breakfast Near Santa Fe today.