Albuquerque provides us with plenty of opportunities to be outside. Most weekends we park our car in the foothills and take a jog around the trails available just a few blocks from our house. We’ve also managed a couple of small, mostly unplanned hikes when we come across them.
The first hike that we actually planned for was for a place that we had somehow never even heard of. We were intrigued by it just from pictures and descriptions, and then we were extremely pleased to find that it is only an hour outside of ABQ.
A quick internet search taught us some important information. This is information that clearly not everyone bothered to read on the website, the ranger station, or any of the many posted signs around the park, so I’m going to help you out.
- It is a popular hike. You will encounter people from all over the country and beyond. If you don’t get there pretty much right when they open up for the day (8 am), you will be waiting in a long line of cars. They pretty much close up shop when the park reaches capacity, so get there early.
- No dogs allowed. It is sacred land for the nearby Pueblo. Be respectful of that.
- Stay on the trail. No climbing on the tent rocks. There are plenty of natural places to climb, veer off to a smaller trail, or sit on non-tent rocks. Again, be respectful.
We got there around 8:30 am, and they are not kidding about it being a popular place. We didn’t have to wait to hike, but the most you can hope for regarding solitude is a nice buffer distance between the family in front of you and the family behind you. It is a slot hike, so there are several places where everyone clogs up. This does not diminish the experience at all. It just makes it more of a social event than a lot of hikes I’ve been on in the past.
I can’t really express to you how nice this hike was. The pictures never really do it justice either. You’re going to have to trust me that you need to go. It is so gorgeous, and fun, and frankly, it provides lots of shade which you can’t underestimate during a New Mexico July. It is so pretty and kind of odd. Rosalind was not that enthusiastic about hiking when we woke her up early Sunday morning. Her exact words were, “I don’t waaannnaaaaa hike.” It took until the parking lot before her full enthusiasm kicked in at the landscape, and then we couldn’t even keep up with her for the rest of the hike. “Look over there. Look at that. Do you see that? Whoa, look at this!”
If you do both parts of the hike, you are in for 4.2 miles. There is a decent amount of elevation and a couple of very quick places where you have to maneuver yourself over rocks. Otherwise the trail is made up of very soft, squishy sand. It will make you a bit sore in the way taking a jog on the beach can. The second hike that takes you to a small man-made cave is in full sun. I would recommend that you do that part first if you get there early.
- Take more water than you think you need. A couple of well-stocked hiking packs are not overkill. You won’t get lost on this trail, so just water and sunscreen should suffice.
- Sunscreen up well beforehand and you should be good for the whole hike.
- DO NOT under any circumstances go on a rainy day. It is a slot canyon and you will most definitely die in a flash flood. It took us two weeks to get to this hike because of rain in the forecast on our first try. Luckily for you, it only rains about every three weeks here.
- Take some cash for the $5 parking fee.
- Hats and sunglasses are your friends.
- Close-toed shoes are smart. I saw several people that clearly just decided to hike on a whim (which is totally fine), but their sandals were utterly useless in the soft, squishy sand of the trail.
- You will be covered in a layer of soft dirt afterward. I could draw in the dirt on my leg on the car ride home. This is only important information if you plan to grab some lunch afterward and are worried about where you can eat with so much dirt on you. We ended up at Freddy’s. Nothing like a little dirt to give you an excuse to scarf down a yummy burger and steal some of your kid’s milkshake.
We could not recommend this hike more. It definitely falls in my top three favorite hikes. Go to there!