In a true testament to the ruggedness of New Mexico terrain, the distance from our campground at Bandelier National Monument to our next campsite at the Cochiti Lake Recreation Area is less than 10 miles as the crow flies, but our relocation drive was 75 miles long and involved backtracking through Santa Fe. We had two goals for our brief two-night stay: prepare for a long spell of dry camping in Albuquerque and visit the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. We accomplished both.
The Tent Rocks are made of multicolored layers of volcanic deposits that have been eroded by wind and water. Harder boulders situated atop the soft volcanic pumice and tuff have protected columns from erosion and yielded the unique conical shapes that give the area its name. In the course of our 3.7 mile hike we explored the relatively easy Cave Loop and the more strenuous Slot Canyon Trail. The hike up the canyon provides excellent views of the tent rocks and ends atop a mesa with panoramic views. My favorite part, however, was the slot canyon. The undulating walls of the canyon, scoured by water, were mesmerizing while the few sections involving boulder scrambling were fun and not scary. This location was reminiscent of all the interesting geological features we explored earlier in Death Valley and in southern Utah, and it just might be my favorite slot canyon yet.
Meanwhile, our enormous campsite with electricity and water provided nice views of the adjacent lake and the surrounding hills. We were even treated to a spectacular sunset one night.
Next: we head to Albuquerque to participate in the craziness that is the Balloon Fiesta.