The geologic area around Santa Fe is marked by its volcanic history. Nearby Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument boasts unusual conical “tent shaped” formations. These vaguely phallic formations are created by the erosion of volcanic ash (tuff) cliffs. Rather than cracking and eroding into columns (as in Bryce Canyon National Park), the softer ash melts down into conical shapes.
It’s not a very big Park, with just two small hiking areas. The area nearest the entrance has a trail that leads back through a slot canyon before climbing 600 feet up to an overlook. This trail is fun, requiring squeezing through a few narrow openings, a bit of rock scrambling in spots, and a fairly stiff climb to the overlook. It’s not very long (3 miles round trip), but offers scenic views. You just have to be careful to watch the weather forecast as a flash flood in the slot canyon could be – problematic.
Reaching the second area requires driving on a gravel road through the local Indian Reservation. At the end of the road is a nice canyon overlook and a gentle one-mile loop trail around the mesa.
Only about 45 minutes from Santa Fe, this Park offers a nice half-day excursion.
And that’s it for Santa Fe! We are currently working our way South, toward Bentonville Arkansas – home of Wal-Mart, and (presumably) some nice mountain biking trails.