My wife Amanda and I decided to take a three-week road trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Sonoma, California this past summer. Our plan was to visit as many National Parks as possible. Meanwhile, her secret plan was to visit as many wineries, as well. We eventually came to an agreement that for each park we visited, we would visit a winery. Before we arrived in Albuquerque we had already decided on places to visit through the RoadTrippers app, but I also used Instagram to find other unique spots along the way. Thanks to Instagram, I found out about Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico. It is less than an hour’s drive from Albuquerque.
Put simply, Tent Rocks ROCKED. It is a lesser-known national monument so you don’t have to fight off throngs of people to move around. Tent Rocks is known for its oddly shaped hoodoos. Hoodoos are made up of soft rock columns topped with a hard rock, which is an effect of wind and water over the years. Cappadocia, Turkey is the only other place on Earth with similar hoodoos.
Amanda and I hiked the 3-mile trail through narrow slot canyons and up steep rock staircases. There were occasional areas with shade, which provided great resting spots. Bring as much as two times the amount of water that you think you need if you go in summer or fall. Once we made it to the top we were able to truly appreciate the strange environment we were in.
Before our trip, I had recently learned about the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program. It’s geared toward kids, but anyone can participate. It’s actually fun to do as an adult. It forces you to slow down and really experience the park from an educational perspective.
At Tent Rocks there isn’t a formal visitor center so you must ask the parking ranger for a Junior Ranger booklet. The book connects you to the environment by offering challenges to find certain flora and fauna, pick up trash, and sketch specific characteristics of the area. Once you complete all the tasks in the book you can pick up a badge or a patch and take the Junior Ranger pledge with a park ranger.
You will be asked to repeat this pledge after the ranger, “As a Junior Ranger, I promise to teach others about what I learned today, explore other parks and historic sites, and help preserve and protect these places so future generations can enjoy them.” The rangers were pretty amused to see a woman in her mid-thirties have such enthusiasm for taking the pledge. I highly recommend the program, especially if you have kids.
Never Stop Exploring,