Our plans for Day 3 involved checking out Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and dinner/drinks with friends of Peter’s now living in Santa Fe, Robert & Connie Striffolino. Tent Rocks is about 40 min from Santa Fe. Although I’m a sucker for bright red rock mountains, I was intrigued by the pasty softness of Tent Rocks and knew we had to make a trip out there.
We learned that the rocks were formed from volcanic eruptions 6-7 million years ago by the Jemez Volcanic field. Deposits of tuft, pumice, and ash created the iconic tent like features of this monument. There are boulders perched on top of the tents which act as a protective cap, although some of the tents have lost their caps. Pyroclastic flows surged down the slopes. The results of such a violent geological event are a visually striking blend of hard and soft. The mountain has substance, it appears solid, but its composition is quite fragile and porous. I especially loved the wavy segments of layers and was reminded of the bands of Jupiter.
On our drive out there we had to pull over several times to take in the western landscape that is so captivating. Thankfully Peter is an artist, patient, and equally inspired by the landscape. There’s something about the west that makes me want to pull over the side of the road every 10 miles. The mountains give the landscape so much more distance compared to what I see in flat land Florida.
The light and clouds seemed to continuously change throughout our time there. Ranging from blue skies with cloudy puffs, to completely gray and overcast. Occasionally the sun would peak out shining a little bit of light on the rocks. There are three different trails you can take: the Cave Loop trail (1.2 mi), the Canyon Trail (1.5 mi one way), and the Veterans Memorial trail (1 mi). Although the Canyon trail had an incredible view at the end and a trip through the slot canyons, we were worried we wouldn’t have enough time to enjoy making art and get back to town in time for dinner with friends. We opted for the Cave Loop trail so we could shoot and paint without worrying about time. It took us three hours to get through 1.2 miles of trail!
I couldn’t believe how much like people the tents looked. I was struck by the faces that emerged in the rocks. They looked like little alien rock people. Others looked more like little dome houses of protection.
I was also inspired by the foliage and the surprisingly few wildlife sightings. Florida is usually teeming with birds, but that was not the case in Santa Fe. Interestingly, a few days prior to departure I saw a huge flock of Robins near the house singing and flying to and fro. The only birds that I saw at Tent Rocks were Robins!
I was especially fond of getting abstractions of Tent Rocks. The rocks are so porous and soft, and the ripples add another element of visual intrigue. It’s amazing how fragile this monument looks, and yet there it has stood the test of time. The cave was very interesting in that it reminded me of a face. The entrance was set above ground level, so you had to climb up to get inside. Due to the sensitive nature of the rocks we were unable to get a close up view, but the facade was interesting enough.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the vistas and textures of Tent Rocks. I was deeply inspired by the softness of it all. I look forward to returning in the future! Even though it took us 3 hours to walk a measly 1.2 miles, we made a lot of art from the visit and made it back to town in time for dinner at the Agave restaurant with local artist Robert Striffolino and his wonderful wife Connie. Check out Robert’s stunning art here.
I hope you enjoyed this trip to Tent Rocks. If you have the chance to do so I encourage you to visit. If you have any feedback, questions, or commentary leave them in the comments block below. If you would like to support this blog and website for a mere $3 you can buy me a Ko-fi at the “Support Me on Ko-fi” button below. Your support is appreciated!