Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

You haven’t heard of Kasha-Katuwe. I hadn’t either. I learned about it from an off-hand comment from a young woman I’d rescued at White Sands. She came running down the sand dunes waving her arms, completely turned around in the vast whiteness. As I drove her back to her vehicle she mentioned going there next and showed me a photograph. I couldn’t believe I’d not heard of it, with the park being so close to Santa Fe. I’d passed this way on previous road trips, having seen both Santa Fe and Taos, and thought, I’ll see something new on this trip through.

Tribal Rd 92

I decided to drive the back roads as I am wont to do, which led me through the Kewa Pueblo and up to Pueblo de Cochiti. Kashe-Katuwe was deep in native lands. It’s another park that has restricted opening and closing, apparently some kids from Albuquerque began to write on the rocks like they would in the city. I found myself waiting on a cold morning by the front gate to be let in. This meant there would be a bit a hustle to get through a slot canyon and upwards towards a mesa top in order to catch the sun at a low angle.

Kasha-Katuwe Tents Rocks NM

It was great, as for some time I had the park all to myself. After catching first light I scrambled through a great little slot canyon and climbed until I gained a view of the unique formations that make the place really special. Kasha-KutweKasha-Kutwe nomadrussThere were several images I saw as I drove through the pueblos, like kids playing basketball on a dirt flat outside a home, that’ll remain on the monochrome of my brain.  Being an outsider with no previous connection I didn’t want to just jump out of the truck and start making photographs. You do what you can to show respect. I did take a couple scenes of still life while passing through.

life on the pueblopueblo scenehorses

The whole place was like Utah in miniature, tucked away in the mountains west of Santa Fe. As I walked off the mesa I remembered the words of poem I’d learned while in southern Utah.

tent rocksindian paintbrush

She gave birth to me from the wet smell of clay
Beneath the sky
When my eyes, they open
Sun-soaked cliffs of sand
White-tip blue mountains
Held me in their arms
And sang to my red blood
Songs of yellow flowers
On black mesas
And I sing

yellow flowers on black mesas


10 thoughts on “Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

  1. Beautiful essay! And the landscape hints at Cappadocia. I was just in Santa Fe/Albuquerque two weeks ago for the Gathering of Nations. Would have loved to stop here. Next time, I will. Thanks for sharing.

    • What a great post on the Gathering of Nations! Way go go getting a media pass too. I didn’t realize you’d been in Southeast Asia for four years, we should talk sometime.

  2. I was supposed to stop by there last October but things managed to get rearranged. Looks like a fascinating place. New Mexico has a bunch of hidden gems.

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