As part of our Martin Luther King Jr. extended weekend road trip across northern New Mexico, my friend Natalie and I woke up early Sunday morning to explore The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
We passed through the entrance toll booth with my national parks pass around 9 a.m. without waiting in line to our surprise. We were admitted and proceeded down the road to the parking lot. After a quick bite of breakfast from the back of my car at the trailhead, we were on the path into the canyon.
John and I had tried to visit the tent rocks during our trip to Albuquerque for the International Hot Air Balloon Festival, but we were deterred by a 45 minute wait at the entrance gate. Natalie and I did very little research into what this area would be like, and we were blown away by what we saw.
The Tent Rocks were by far the most unique rock formations we saw all weekend for many reasons. To start, they are volcanic remnants layered by lava flows from nearby volcanic explosions. We let our imaginations wander around the thought of what it would have been like to see the landscape burning, bubbling, and forming.
We then started to think more about the years of erosion that created the landscape we stood among. It is a landscape ripped and worn by wind and water. We wandered through the resulting space between each tent rock.
The trail then took us past a cave believed to have been carved out by human hands thousands of years before, and now, we were more curious than ever about the place we were exploring.
We were only able to take the Cave Loop trail, because the Slot Canyon trail had been closed due to snowy and icy conditions. Even though we didn't get to see the entire preservation, what we saw was more than enough to stoke our curiosity.
We spent about two hours walking, stopping, taking pictures, and questioning the history of this mesmerizing area before we completed the loop and were back at the car. It was one of the coolest ways to start the day, and we were so glad we had woken up early enough to avoid the crowds and see the sunrise. The early morning start left us with the perfect amount of time to explore our next stop: Meow Wolf!
One thing that never ceased to amaze us during our four days in New Mexico were the landscapes. Everywhere we went was uniquely different than the last. We went from mountains to valleys to near desert-like terrains within a couple hundred miles, and of all that diversity, the Tent Rocks was the most unique place we saw.
After a long day of exploring Taos and its Ski Valley area, a late night soak at Ojo Caliente Spa and Hot Spring was the perfect nightcap for the first full day of our extended weekend road trip.
We had spent the morning snowshoeing, the afternoon visiting temples, and the evening enjoying drinks, food, and live music. You can read more about our entire trip in my New Mexico Road Trip post!
We arrived at the front desk of Ojo Caliente around 7:30 p.m., paid our entrance fees totaling $40.78, listened to the safety run down, and were given directions to everything. We had until 10 p.m. to enjoy the facilities, and we intended to take full advantage of our time.
We found the women’s locker room to change and lock up our items. In just a few short minutes we would be briskly walking across the stone-floored patio toward our first pool.
The Iron Pool was the closest pool to our locker room, and we thought it would have some of the best views because of its awesome rock feature. It turns out that the pool has some of the best mineral features too.
A plaque outside the pool tells of an Indian legend claiming that the rock guards the place where ancient people of the mesa collected food and water during a famine and explains how the iron in the water is beneficial to the blood, immune system, and skin.
We sat in the water for a nice, long time taking in the big, red rock standing guard with shimmering stars behind it. Eventually, we decided it was time to move on to the next pool and see if we could find something hotter.
We walked up a stairwell next to the pool we were leaving and discovered the hottest pool in the spa, The New Terrace Pool. At night, its awning covers the stars, and we debated how long we wanted to stay. We knew we wouldn't find heat like this again, but we wanted a better view.
Our search took us to the indoor Soda Pool where we didn't even get in, because the pool that was supposed to be a silent reflection pool was loud and overcrowded instead.
We found The Lithia and Cliffside Pool next and discovered that both are pumped full of waters formulated to combat depression and aid in digestion. Both pools were just warm, so we didn't stay long in either.
Finally, we hustled across the chilly patio, jumped into the Arsenic Spring, and settled in for a long soak. This pool had all the qualities we had been searching for: it was hot, it wasn’t crowded, and it featured a wide open view of the sky and the stars above.
We enjoyed the company of an older couple and a few more visitors who were in and out during our invigorating time in the spring. We eventually learned that we only had about 45 minutes left in our spa access and decided to finish the night with a sauna session.
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read!