Tent Rocks National Monument is an easy 50 mile drive north of Albuquerque, NM in the Cochiti Lake area. The entrance fee is $5/person or free if you have the America The Beautiful pass. In the Winter, operating hours are 8 am to 5 pm.
The drive from the entrance to the trailhead/parking area has lots of dips. It helps to take it slow if you’re traveling in a larger vehicle like an RV.
RV/Oversized vehicle parking: There’s ample parking near the trailhead, including a large sandy parking area for buses and RVs.
There are two trails you can hike – the Slot Canyon or Cave loop trail. I chose the Slot Canyon trail, which is a 3-mi round trip hike. Just a few minutes into the hike you’re treated to views of the striped rock formations, formed by a combination of volcanic activity (“igneous” rocks) and wind and water erosion (“sedimentary rock”). The layers you see are the mixture of both. And the views keep getting better!
As the trail’s name suggests, you’ll get to explore a slot canyon, often squeezing yourself in between large rocks to follow the marked trail. As you near the end of the trail, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the stars of the show – the Tent Rocks themselves.
If you’re planning on visiting, bring plenty of water as there isn’t any available at the monument. Dogs are also (unfortunately) not allowed on the trails.
After your hike, you could bed down for the night at the nearby Cochiti Lake campground. It’s managed by the Army Corp of Engineers, a Federal agency tasked with managing our country’s water and environmental resources. With the Federal discount pass, dry camping is only $6/night ($12 regularly). Dry camping sites are in Elk Run and Ringtail Loops. Water and electric sites In Juniper and Buffalo Grove loops are also available for $20/night. The campground has a good amount of sites with a number enjoying views of the nearby lake.