The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a remarkable outdoor laboratory, offering an opportunity to observe, study, and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes. The national monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, includes a national recreation trail (see “Activities” below) and ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level.
The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred six to seven million years ago and left pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.” In close inspections of the arroyos, visitors will discover small, rounded, translucent obsidian (volcanic glass) fragments created by rapid cooling. Please leave these fragments for others to enjoy.
Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below. Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks and are disintegrating. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.
As the result of uniform layering of volcanic material, bands of gray are interspersed with beige and pink-colored rock along the cliff face. Over time, wind and water cut into these deposits, creating canyons and arroyos, scooping holes in the rock, and contouring the ends of small, inward ravines into smooth semi-circles.
There are Vault Toilet Restrooms at the site. Camping and RV hookups are available at Cochiti Lake Recreation Area nearby.
Downloadable brochure and a station-to-station video tour can be found on the website below.