Tent Rocks National Monument is breathtaking!

My friends and I headed out to find a simple and interesting hike for the day. Tent Rocks is only an hour the-canyon-starts-at-tent-rocksdrive from Albuquerque, NM and has great views. It also tends to be a bit of a tourist spot, so if you want less of a crowd, try a weekday or like us, on a really hot day (there are several exposed areas to the sun, so wear a hat and sunscreen).

Geological formations

The name Tent Rocks is due to the formations created when boulders are exposed by the quick erosion of the soft volcanic tuff and ash. These boulders protect the underlying tuff, creating towering “tents” until eventually, the boulder falls away. Once the boulder’s protection is gone, the tent is quickly worn down.

We entered the canyon, and in some places, the soft sand crunched under foot, while in others we had to make our way carefully over rocks and through narrow passages. Even as we began to follow the canyon’s cool-formations-at-tent-rocksgradual accent we kept up a leisurely pace, enjoyed the view, and took numerous pictures so we were rarely out of breath from the moderate hike.  Several times we stopped to allow passage of hikers coming back down.

At the top

What always amazes me about Tent Rocks is that every time I return, both the canyon and the surrounding formations have changed. The walls are rough like sandpaper but if you run your hands over the surface the material just falls away. Eventually, we made it to where the trail works its way up and out of the canyon. Steep, man-made steps and switchbacks led up until we reached a fantastic overlook. From here the view was 360°. We could see many of the distant mountains including the Sandia Mountains and the Sangre De Cristos.  My friends and I took a narrow-section-at-tent-rocksbreak and enjoyed the sunshine, the breeze, the view, and the wonder of being in an enchanted place. There is no shade at the top so if you plan to take a break on a sunny day – pack up a few umbrellas.

As evidence of the softness of the walls, there is a small cave located on a shorter and easier path. From the high rate of erosion, the cave is now getting harder to climb into, but many find it interesting to see. You can see the map of the different trails here.

The Details:

  • $5.00 entrance fee
  • Toilet facilities are located near the parking lot area (no running water)
  • Picnic Tables are located near the parking lot area
  • Hiking the Canyon trail (2 miles up and back) can take from 2.5 to 4 hours
  • Has a steep climb of 630 feet to reach the lookout
  • No dogs allowed

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Hello, I’m Sonja Dewing. I’m a Writing Professional: Technical, business, and Instructional Writing, as well as a Freelance Writer for magazines and newspapers. If you need a writer, drop me a line.