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Slot Canyon Trail Out and Back

  4.7 ( 35 ) Favorite


3.0 mile 4.8 kilometer loop


Ascent: 815' 248 m
Descent: -814' -248 m
High: 6,359' 1,938 m
Low: 5,745' 1,751 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)


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Trail shared by Kristen Arendt

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

Kristen Arendt

Features Views


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.


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.

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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
May 26, 2019
G Man
May 26, 2019
Carrie Wetzel
Get there early to avoid the crowds. 3mi — 1h 30m
Apr 12, 2019
Adamson Bryant
with Family 4mi — 2h 30m
Mar 30, 2019
Darcy Andersen

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 35 votes


  4.7 from 35 votes
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in New Mexico


255 Views Last Month
19,804 Since Nov 23, 2016



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
View from the climb to the overlook
May 8, 2018 near Santo D…, NM
The Slot
Dec 10, 2017 near Santo D…, NM
Slot Canyon Trail
Dec 10, 2017 near Santo D…, NM

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