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Slot Canyon Trail Out and Back



3.0 mile 4.8 kilometer loop
76% Runnable


Ascent: 815' 248 m
Descent: -814' -248 m
High: 6,359' 1,938 m
Low: 5,745' 1,751 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)


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Trail shared by Kristen Arendt

One of New Mexico's "must-do" runs!

Kristen Arendt

Features Views


This quick out-and-back takes you through a narrow slot canyon and ends at an overlook of the Monument's namesake teepee (or tent) shaped rock formations.

Of the two main trails at this trailhead for Kasha-Katuwe Tent Tocks National Monument, the Cave Loop Trail is the more difficult, but is also the more picturesque. You'll start off running among the Monument's unique tent-shaped hoodoos along a sandy trail, and then enter a narrow, but beautiful, slot canyon.

The canyon then opens up before the trail makes its way steeply up the canyon wall to an overlook of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, and Sandia mountains, as well as the Rio Grande Valley.

Need to Know

Use caution when running in the slot canyon. Beware of rock falls during wet and windy conditions and the possibility of flash flooding during inclement weather.


From the trailhead, the trail heads to the northeast and is well-marked as it winds through the park's namesake tent rock hoodoos. These formed from erosion after the Jemez volcanic field erupted 6-7 million years ago. The formations are still forming and pumice and tuff are quite fragile so please remain on the trail.

A half-mile into the run, you'll arrive at the intersection for the easier Cave Loop Trail to the left. The Canyon Trail continues to the right, and will continue to a narrow slot canyon. This area is quite picturesque, and many visitors will stop and take pictures through this section. Please be courteous to other visitors and allow them to pass in areas that allow. Also, beware of rock falls during wet and windy conditions and the possibility of flash flooding during inclement weather.

Just over a mile into the run, you'll start to climb out of the canyon. The trail gets quite steep with dozens of steps as it switchbacks up the canyon wall. During the warm, summer months, take your time and use caution to avoid heat-related injuries. During the winter, watch for icy conditions in this section. The trail tops out with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. You'll return to the trailhead along the same route.

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Oct 28, 2018
Michal P
Sep 16, 2017
absolute must do. a little longer mileage since I combined both trails: canyon and cave loop, plus a little off trails. worth starting early to avo... 4.7mi
Feb 25, 2017
Eric Sharpe
Fun with Carrie at Tent Rock Monument 3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 38 votes


  4.7 from 38 votes
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in New Mexico


250 Views Last Month
21,309 Since Nov 23, 2016



View from the climb to the overlook
May 8, 2018 near Santo D…, NM
Tent Rock Formations
Dec 6, 2017 near Santo D…, NM
Slot Canyon Trail
Dec 10, 2017 near Santo D…, NM
Slot Canyon Trail
Dec 10, 2017 near Santo D…, NM
The Slot
Dec 10, 2017 near Santo D…, NM
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, Slot Canyon
Mar 9, 2019 near Santo D…, NM