From the amazing outdoor geological laboratory of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (southwest of Santa Fe), to the steep, angular mountain range above the Chihuahuan Desert floor at the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (near Las Cruces), the rugged, wide open plains dotted by volcanic cones of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (near Taos), and the a major deposit of Paleozoic Era fossilized footprint megatrackways at Prehistoric Trackways National Monument (near Las Cruces), BLM-New Mexico’s national monuments are a good representation of the diverse landscapes managed by the agency.  

These monuments total 748,755 acres, and have been designated to protect historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest.  Each monument is designated for unique purposes and, consequently, each monument is managed in unique ways.  

Recreational uses in monument include a wide variety of non-motorized and motorized activities.  Each area is unique and offers different opportunities and different restrictions, but common activities include hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, backpacking, camping, nature study, photography, mountain biking, and driving off-highway vehicle routes.

Featured: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Landscape view of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a remarkable outdoor laboratory, offering an opportunity to observe, study, and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes. The National Monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, includes a national recreation trail and ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level. It is for foot travel only, and contains two segments that provide opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, geologic observation, and plant identification.

The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.”

Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below. Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks, and are disintegrating. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet up to 90 feet.

All New Mexico National Monuments 

A complete list of New Mexico national monuments are below.