Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a remarkable opportunity to observe and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes. At the national monument, there are many rock formations in the shape of cones. These rock formations, or “tent rocks,” vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet. They were formed 6 to 7 million years ago by volcanic eruptions. These eruptions left pumice, ash and rock deposits over 1,000 feet thick. If you look closely at the arroyos, you can also discover small fragments of obsidian (volcanic glass).
The tent rocks have an unusual shape. The bottom part is made of softer pumice, which has eroded. But on top, the harder caprock has remained. The rock formations also have attractive bands of color. There are bands of gray, beige, and pink. These bands were deposited in uniform layers by the volcanic eruptions. Over time, wind and water cut into these rock deposits, creating canyons and scooping holes in the rock.

Plants & Animals
In the rock formations, you will find:
  • the manzanita shrub
  • Indian paintbrush
  • Apache plume
  • rabbitbrush.
Depending on the season, you will see a variety of birds and animals, like:
  • mule deer
  • coyotes
  • chipmunks
  • elk
  • ground squirrels
  • rabbits
  • wild turkey
  • American kestrels
  • red-tailed hawks
  • violet-green swallows
  • Western Scrub-Jays

Historical & Cultural Perspective
For centuries, this unique landscape has been a popular place to visit, and there is evidence of human occupations for over 4,000 years. During the 14th and 15th centuries, several large pueblos were established. Their descendants, the Pueblo de Cochiti, still live nearby. For this reason, the national monument has the name Kasha-Katuwe, which means “white cliffs” in the traditional Keresan language of the Pueblo people.

(adapted from http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/rio_puerco/kasha_katuwe_tent_rocks.html)