Red Rock Park, NM

Rather than driving straight back home after our Arizona trip, we spent last night in Gallup, NM, about 2 hours west of Albuquerque. We had been wanting to hike at Red Rock Park in Gallup but it seemed like a bit too far to drive for a day hike. Staying in Gallup overnight was a perfect opportunity to get up early, spend the day hiking at Red Rock and still make it back home at a decent hour.

There are 2 outstanding eroded sandstone outcroppings at Red Rock with 2 separate out-and-back trails to access each one. The first trail we did was about 2 miles out to the Church Rock formation, a loop around the formation and then 2 miles back. We didn’t realize until later that there is a trail from the Church Rock that connects to the Pyramid Trail so that we wouldn’t have had to backtrack.

The trailheads for the hikes were not what we would have expected and it wasn’t easy to locate them. Red Rock Park is managed by the city of Gallup and is used for rodeos, sports events, entertainment and cultural events. There is a convention center, a large arena, campgrounds, a camp store and other buildings. Hiking is not the main reason that people go there so the signs for the trail accesses were somewhat obscure.

Parking lots and rodeo grounds at Red Rock make for some strange-looking trailheads.
Parking lots and rodeo grounds at Red Rock make for some strange-looking trailheads.

We started shortly after sunrise when the shadows were still long.
We started shortly after sunrise when the shadows were still long.

Many cairns to show the way.  Funny how their shapes reflected the shape of Church Rock.
Many cairns to show the way. Funny how their shapes reflected the shape of Church Rock.

Heading up Church Rock Trail.
Heading up Church Rock Trail.

Church Rock ahead.
Church Rock ahead.

Church Rock from front approach.
Church Rock from front approach.

Side view of Church Rock with interesting light effects.
Side view of Church Rock with interesting light effects.

Church Rock viewed from behind.
Church Rock viewed from behind.

Reminded us of some of the formations at Tent Rocks.
Reminded us of some of the formations at Tent Rocks.

After completing the hike out to Church Rock and returning to our car we were still not sure how to find the trailhead for the Pyramid Rock Trail. However, it was now late enough in the morning that the park office was open and we were able to look at a map and figure out where we needed to go to start the hike to Pyramid Rock. Again, this was an out-and-back, not quite as long as the trail to Church Rock.
Approaching Pyramid Rock.  Unlike at Church Rock, the trail for Pyramid Rock leads to the summit of the formation.
Approaching Pyramid Rock. Unlike at Church Rock, the trail for Pyramid Rock leads to the summit of the formation.

A cairn on the Pyramid Rock Trail with Church Rock to the right.
A cairn on the Pyramid Rock Trail with Church Rock to the right.

Example of steps carved into the rock. Trail work done by Youth Conservation Corps.
Example of steps carved into the rock. Trail work done by Youth Conservation Corps.

A ghost rock?
A ghost rock?

Interesting hoodoo.
Interesting hoodoo.

Reached the summit of Pyramid Rock, about 8000 feet elevation.
Reached the summit of Pyramid Rock, about 8000 feet elevation.

Gallup, NM, birthplace of my daughter, is in the distance.
Gallup, NM, birthplace of my daughter, is in the distance.

Author: bjregan

Enjoying retirement activities. Main goals for retirement are to stay spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.

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