Tent Rocks, New Mexico
Distance: 3.3 mile loop
Month Hiked: December
Garmin GPS File: Tent-Rocks.GPX
From I-25 North, take Exit 259 toward Pena Blanca. Turn left onto NM-22 and go 12.2 miles North to the junction with Cochiti Highway. Turn left to stay on NM-22 another 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Tribal Road 92, which connects to Forest Road 266 and BLM Road 1011. Go 0.5 miles West to the fee station. Continue 4.7 miles to the designated parking area on the right.
Katie decided that she wanted to check out Tent Rocks for her birthday, so we got things prepped the night before. In the morning after getting the car loaded we hopped in and set off for the approximately hour and a half drive from Kirtland AFB. When we got there the gentlemen at the entry kiosk gave us a very detailed, yet concise and easy to understand overview of what to expect from the different trails.
When we arrived at the parking lot we were surprised to see as many vehicles as we did. The lot was almost full and there wasn't much of an overflow lot that I could see. After getting our day packs on and our cameras ready we set out to navigate the slot canyon on the way to the actual 'tent rocks'. Luckily the weather was sunny and warm enough to enjoy a casual trek, which explained the multitude of other people on the trail.
I had never been through a slot canyon, but had always wanted to so I tried to film as much of it as I could without running out of batteries before the end. There were amazing vertical sections barely wider than shoulder width, which made you feel like a kid exploring a new area around the neighborhood. The canyon was certainly my favorite part, but there were also open areas that really allowed you to see the layers of volcanic ash and sediment that made up the canyon walls.
As I hinted at earlier it was quite busy with hikers and photographers. There were many times you had to stand aside and let others pass, though we found everyone to be very polite and respectful. I heard a man telling his party that it was the busiest he'd ever seen it in his twenty something visits so it may not be that crowded all the time. In any case it was still a very enjoyable day.
After we exited the slot canyon you started to see the beginning of the tent rock formations. The trail began to ascend to the top of the wall and gave you a really good view of the rock formations as well as the general New Mexico landscape. If you ever find yourself exploring New Mexico you should definitely check this place out and bring your camera!
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