I am a fan of hoodoos, a geologic formation also known as a tent rock. The reason I like them is because they look weird. That’s it. There’s a whole bunch of interesting science behind how they form that I sometimes find interesting, but on the day I went to visit these hoodoos, I just wanted to hike someplace cool. Off to Tent Rocks it was.
This area was designated a National Monument relatively recently, in January of 2001. It is a day use only facility, and is surrounded by the tribal lands of the Cochiti Pueblo. I had never heard of it until I visited Santa Fe and was told by multiple locals that it’s one of the best hikes in the area, and I can see why. It’s about a 40 mile drive from downtown Santa Fe, but through beautiful country so I was happy to do it.
There are two hiking options, one is a basic loop which allows for a view of a spectacular cluster of hoodoos from afar, the other takes you through an incredibly beautiful slot canyon, close to and up around the hoodoos until you reach a vista with a panoramic view of the New Mexico landscape.
The second option has a fairly steep climb right at the end, but even if you aren’t up for that, it’s worth taking that trail at least through the slot canyon and up close to the hoodoos.
I was a little apprehensive about doing the whole thing since I was having a bit of trouble with the altitude, but I arrived midday and so many hikers were coming back down the trail smiling and saying, “You’ve got to see this!” that I decided to just take it slow and keep going as long as I wasn’t getting too out of breath. They were right, and it was completely worth it!
After coming back from the slot canyon trail, I decided to turn right and continue through the rest of what was billed as the “easy” loop.
That loop actually does still have a bit of a climb to it, but I’m glad I did that also because it went by some additional formations and a cave that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I also saw a deer resting in the trees which gave me wildlife viewing points. 🙂
Overall impression: This was a fantastic hike and if I’m ever back in the area, I’ll do it again!
Costs: $5 admission fee per car. I got in free with my National Parks Annual Pass. There are no concessions here (so be sure to bring plenty of water and any food you want), but there are picnic tables and restrooms at the trail head.