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Slot Canyon Trail Out and Back

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.7 (38) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

One of New Mexico's "must-do" hikes!


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Map Key

3.0

Miles

4.8

KM

Loop

6,359' 1,938 m

High

5,745' 1,751 m

Low

815' 248 m

Up

814' 248 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

38%

Max Grade (21°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views

Overview

This quick out-and-back takes you through a narrow slot canyon and ends at an overlook of the Monument's namesake teepee (or tent) shaped rock formations.

Of the two main trails at this trailhead for Kasha-Katuwe Tent Tocks National Monument, the Cave Loop Trail is the more difficult, but is also the more picturesque. You'll start off hiking among the Monument's unique tent-shaped hoodoos along a sandy trail, and then enter a narrow, but beautiful, slot canyon.

The canyon then opens up before the trail makes its way steeply up the canyon wall to an overlook of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, and Sandia mountains, as well as the Rio Grande Valley.

Need to Know

Use caution when hiking in the slot canyon. Beware of rock falls during wet and windy conditions and the possibility of flash flooding during inclement weather.

Description

From the trailhead, the trail heads to the northeast and is well-marked as it winds through the park's namesake tent rock hoodoos. These formed from erosion after the Jemez volcanic field erupted 6-7 million years ago. The formations are still forming and pumice and tuff are quite fragile so please remain on the trail.

A half-mile into the hike, you'll arrive at the intersection for the easier Cave Loop Trail to the left. The Canyon Trail continues to the right, and will continue to a narrow slot canyon. This area is quite picturesque, and many visitors will stop and take pictures through this section. Please be courteous to other visitors and allow them to pass in areas that allow. Also, beware of rock falls during wet and windy conditions and the possibility of flash flooding during inclement weather.

Just over a mile into the hike, you'll start to climb out of the canyon. The trail gets quite steep with dozens of steps as it switchbacks up the canyon wall. During the warm, summer months, take your time and use caution to avoid heat-related injuries. During the winter, watch for icy conditions in this section. The trail tops out with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. You'll return to the trailhead along the same route.

Contacts

Shared By:

Kristen Arendt

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 38 votes

#154

Overall
  4.7 from 38 votes
5 Star
71%
4 Star
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3 Star
3%
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1 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in New Mexico

#154

Overall
125 Views Last Month
21,617 Since Nov 23, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

View from the climb to the overlook
May 8, 2018 near Santo D…, NM
Tent Rock Formations
Dec 6, 2017 near Santo D…, NM
At the end of the Slot Canyon Trail.
Aug 20, 2018 near Santo D…, NM
Slot Canyon Trail
Dec 10, 2017 near Santo D…, NM
The Slot
Dec 10, 2017 near Santo D…, NM
Slot Canyon Trail
Dec 10, 2017 near Santo D…, NM

Weather


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Check-Ins

Oct 12, 2019
Christi B
3.2mi — 1h 52m
Oct 6, 2019
Lindsey Grudnicki
Sep 20, 2019
Erin M
Sep 17, 2019
Ryan B
Beautiful and overlooked park. Slots and tent rock formations are great! Go here if you're looking for a hike in northern NM.
Jul 12, 2019
Tudor P
Jul 3, 2019
Julie Ludwig
Stunning slot canyon with nice climb to see from above. Otherworldly! 3mi
May 28, 2019
Alejandro Tamayo
May 27, 2019
Jeff S