Friends, rock teepees and a singing road – Bernalillo, NM

We were excited to move 157 miles south from Farmington to Bernalillo, where the “two B’s” would be neighbors – the two B’s were our coach Betsy and our good friends’ home on wheels named Beluga.  Yes, we were very happy that Dave and Sue could arrange their schedule so we could meet up as we intersected briefly in New Mexico.

Betsy takes a break at multi-colored hills along Highway 150 S toward Bernalillo
The two B’s Beluga and Betsy (with my hubby checking out the new Jeep)

We had planned our stop so we could also visit with friends Hector and Brenda, who now reside in the area.  These are the folks who graciously cared for Betsy for almost a month last year when we took our European cruise.

It was great that we could all enjoy some time together at a local brewery.  As usual, the time flew by as we all got caught up with stories of our recent adventures.

The Bernalillo gang: Steve, Me, Dave, Sue, Hector and Brenda

The weather after our arrival was less than perfect, but Sue was not deterred as she put together some activities that included exploring the Jemez Mountains, some wine tasting (we learned there are some good wines in New Mexico), driving the “musical road”, and a side trip to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.

Sue’s post about our explorations is here, and below are some photos and comments I gathered from our fun day together:

Cluster of rock teepees along the Jemez Mountains
Surprisingly good wines at Ponderosa Winery – each couple went home with 2 bottles!
It took centuries for mineral deposits from a hot spring to create this amazing natural dam across the river
We even got snowed on a bit during our sightseeing
Goofing off at the dual Gilman Tunnels, which were blasted out of solid rock
This rock collapse looked to me like a ghost, or maybe Darth Vader?
My cohorts modeled at a rock structure in the Sandia Mountain foothills

The Singing Road

A highlight of our excursion was driving over the rumble strip on a stretch of Route 66.  To get the road to play “America the Beautiful”, Dave had to drive over the strip at exactly 45mph.  He patiently drove it three times (and was probably considering committing hari-kari) as we tried to capture the sound on our phones.  Here’s the recording I captured, turn it up and listen carefully to hear it:

The Singing Road was created using metal plates placed under the pavement. The plates were covered with asphalt, then the rumble strips were installed.  You must drive the correct speed to hear the road “sing”; too slow or too fast and it doesn’t work.

We’re glad Sue knew about this interesting nearby attraction, we’d never heard of it and it was quite cool!

Eastbound 364 (Route 66) near Tijears, New Mexico

Before we went our separate ways, Dave lent Steve a hand with a simple repair on one of Betsy’s window awnings that required two ladders and two humans to get the job done.  Thanks, Dave!

Dave is VERY handy, and it was great to have his help
Waiting for a goodbye kiss from lovable Lewis (is he laughing at Steve’s haircut?)

Tent Rocks

After parting ways with our friends, we made a visit to Kasha Katuwe National Monument.  Several of our RVing friends had already explored and hiked at this interesting place, and we decided to give it a go on our last dreary and overcast day in Bernalillo.  In my previous post, I included photos of many interesting mini-hoodoos scattered around Bisti Wilderness.  At Kasha Katuwe the hoodoos were fairly uniform in shape and varied mostly in their size.  Called “tent rock formations”, they are yet another fascinating landscape to explore while also getting in a decent hike.

We followed both segments of the National Recreation Trail within the monument to get an up-close view of the geologic processes that created this spectacular scenery.  Our 4+ mile trek wound through a narrow slot canyon and climbed to the top of a mesa where we were rewarded with excellent views of the surrounding mountains.  We quickly discovered that this place is very popular, and even more so after several days of inclement weather.

Walking through slot canyons is always fun
Early Cochiti people left squiggles on the cliff walls
A single white Apache plume flower with a few purplish-pink feather-like seed heads

Geologic history fascinates us, and the story behind what happened here to create and shape these formations definitely did.  Unlike the Bisti Wilderness, this landscape didn’t result from ancient seas but rather from two different processes.

The first process was many volcanic eruptions, which dumped layer after layer of pumice ash and tuff deposits to over 1,000′ deep.

In the language of the Pueblo de Cochiti, “Kasha-Katuwe” means white cliffs

The second process was uplifting and exposure to the power of water and wind, which performed their magic to sculpt the volcanic layers.  Voilà!  A fairy tale landscape emerged that we are fortunate to explore and enjoy today.

A cluster of tent rocks look like gigantic sharpened pencils
Looks like a leaning ice cream cone – will it topple any minute?
Slot canyons created by the force of water
Hard boulder caps protect softer pumice beneath from erosion – until they fall off
Smaller tent rocks looked like Casper the Friendly (or not so friendly?) Ghost to me
Erosion exposed the roots of this Ponderosa Pine, but surprisingly it was green and seemed healthy
Evidenced by soot on the ceiling, some holes in the rocks were used as shelter by early people
View from the mesa top
A decent hike while enjoying wonderful scenery – yay!

This was a wonderful stopover.  Meeting up with friends AND enjoying interesting and lesser-known activities in New Mexico – works for us!




  1. At first quick glance, I thought the rock collapse looked like a statue of the Virgin Mary. These are all places and features we are hoping to enjoy possibly in the coming year — without snow please! We had originally planned more time in New Mexico this year, but it got pushed back. Your photos and trail-tales are making me eager to get there!

  2. As soon as I read “rock teepees” I had to read your post. What an incredible area! Love all the unique formations and will miss walking the desert trails this winter.

    • But you will be walking on white sand on the beach instead of the washes in the desert. Perhaps on your way back to SD this spring, you might include NM on your route.

  3. Thanks for one last visit to the west, going to miss it this winter. I think we could easily spend a month in the area seeing the sites.

  4. Looks like such a fun time with good friends! So glad you made it to Kasha Katuwe. We enjoyed our hike there and the unique beauty of the landscape, too. Love seeing it through your eyes and camera—those rocks do look like Casper (in a bad mood)!

    • Tent Rocks had been in the radar for some time now and I thought we would never explored it. Thankfully due to Steve’s desire to go to FL, I made sure we pass by this way from CO.

  5. I wonder if that was the same RV project that Kevin was going to help Steve with the morning everything went sideways for us?? Sounds familiar…. Anyway, glad it finally got done! Dave and Sue definitely know where some great stuff is (never heard of the musical highway either…) and it looks like you had a fantastic visit. We enjoyed what little time we had in NM this year, but know there’s so much more to see. This one is absolutely on our list.

    • Ha ha Laura, you guessed it right! What can I say Kevin preferred a helicopter ride that day 🙂 NM still has lots of natural wonders to be explored. Bisti and Tent Rocks is a must explored gems.

  6. We’re so glad we could cross paths as we moved in opposite directions. We always have the best time! My recording of the singing road didn’t work as well as yours so thanks for letting us hear it again!

  7. The very first thing that popped into my mind when I saw your first picture of the Teepees was ghosts with their pointy white sheets and eyes cut out. I wondered what that says about me until later when I read you thought so too. The landscape picture of them further down is wonderful. That’s a happy looking group of friends. Wow what a picture of the natural dam. Simply gorgeous. What colors and the water cascading beneath. I like the rock structure with its triple windows. Any idea why it was originally created. Nice stone work, pretty labor intensive. Couldn’t hear the singing road. But the idea is a hoot. The things you find! The tent rocks are really amazing in their colors. Love the picture of you looking at them. The close ups appear to have a rainbow of stripes. This is a place I must see. Great closing shot.

    • You know Sherry there was no plaque or anything that told us about the rock structure. When we were there we were guessing it was a CCC project and sure enough when we googled it, it was indeed built by CCC.

  8. New Mexico has great physical beauty, but to me the greater beauty is the cultures, and often their stories are tragic. Some ruins you might want to see are Chaco Canyon (but check the dirt road, you might not be able to get your motor home in or out), Aztec, and Bandelier. I used to love Puye Cliff Dwellings between Los Alamos and Santa Fe, but the Santa Clara reservation has junked it up with a visitor center. BTW, the science museum at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories is worth seeing. When in Taos see the Millicent Rogers Museum. It is a gem of Southwestern art. Also visit the Taos Pueblo. It is 1,000 years old and the only five story pueblo still in existence. The old church was destroyed in putting down the Taos Revolt. Totally different is the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. You might want to look it up. Have a drink during happy hour in the Taos Inn. It always has some funky band playing which is part of the local color. Depending on your tastes you might want to visit Kit Carson’s house. I liked the Seven Cities That Died of Fear on the east side of the Manzano Mountains, especially Abo and Grand Quivira now called Salinas Pueblo. I am not a fan of Spanish colonial policy. They were cruel and destroyed many pueblos. Acoma Pueblo is worth seeing, but you might not be able to get your motor home up the mesa. If you get there see the church that Ansel Adams made famous, and check the beams in the ceiling. A good question is where did the trees come from. When the Spanish conquered the pueblo they chopped off the right foot of every man, sold the men and boys into slavery in the silver miles, and kept the women for sex slaves. General Lew Wallace was sent to settle the Lincoln County Range War and while in NM he wrote BEN HUR. One can spend months in NM and not see it all. Enjoy! Best wishes. Also check into the slave trade among all ethnic groups and the saga of Crypto-Jews and the Mexican Inquisition.

    • It looks like we have to revisit the state again to check out your suggestions. Our stop this time was actually our third visit and have been to the other point of interests you have mentioned. Im taking notes for the future visits, thank you.

  9. What a fun stop! Friends, fun and exploring…just doesn’t get any better! Tent Rocks is still on our radar and a stop I hope to make. Another awesome post of beautiful photos.

    • If you stop at the Coronado State Monument in Bernalillo, don’t believe all the crap the rangers tell you. Coronado stole the Indians’ food, winter clothes, and women, and destroyed two pueblos.

      • Some other little gems you might want to see in NM are El Morrow or Inscription Rock near Zuni Pueblo. It has carvings from prehistoric Indians, conquistadors, and early pioneers. On top are two pueblo ruins. I believe you can camp there. Three Rivers petroglyph park is remote, but it has thousands of petroglyphs (and camping). There are many museums in Santa Fe. My favorites are the Governor’s Palace and the Museum of NM, but don’t expect them to talk about the Revolt of 1837. A lot of people in NM want to deny it was a civil war between Hispanics in the north and south. Santa Fe changed hands twice, and there were summary executions. White Sands is gorgeous. There are many great books. My favorites are Josiah Gregg’s COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES, ca. 1844, LAND OF ENCHANTMENT for a woman’s point of view (POV), and Hordes TO THE END OF THE EARTH about Crypto-Jews. Enjoy, New Mexico is rich in history.

  10. There is so much natural beauty in New Mexico. Can’t wait to go back and do some serious exploring. Thanks for all the great tips MonaLiza.

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