“Can we hike those mountains?” was what my crew wanted to know as soon as we crossed the New Mexico border and began seeing hills. Well that and, “Is that what the Grand Canyon looks like?” Ha! Our initial road trip didn’t afford many stops as we were in a hurry to make it to Arizona for our Family Mission Trip, but as soon as we had a chance and our duties at the church were over we headed out for a hike.
We had seen beautiful Church Rock from the highway in Gallup, New Mexico. The kids LOVED it! That was first on our list.
What you need to know:
- Entering the park just to hike is free, though there is also an RV campground you can stay in for a nominal fee.
2. The hike is about 3.5 miles there and back.
3. The path that leads to Church Rock hiking trail begins in a very wide sandy area. That is deceiving! The trail is actually very narrow. At times it is over slanted rock and many times we had a tough time deciphering where the actual trail was.
4. Take water! We were so excited to set out on our adventure that we didn’t come prepared with water. We drove all around the park to find water to purchase and couldn’t find any. Finally, we found empty water bottles in the van and filled them in a water fountain in an open building we found in the park. We were so glad we did!
5. The skill level listed for this hike is moderate. Families taking children the ages of ours should be cautioned! We treaded very carefully. My 10 year old daughter was very fearful in places. My husband grabbed my 4 year old, and I my 7 year old, and we did not let go. Someone had a good hold on the boys or was positioned below them to catch them every inch of the way.
You know your children. My four year old had no fear at all and wished we would just let him go, but he did obey and stay with us. If your young child would be likely to pull away from you and try to take off on his own do not try this trail with him.
Would we ever get there?
Well…No! This was the end of the trail for us. We made up this rock with the grooves cut out, but when we got to the top of the steps the trail pointed straight up the rock but without any more steps. Jason and I could have done it, but not with the kids.
We sat down and rested before we started the scary tread back down.
This was as close as we got to Church Rock. There was no zoom on this photo. We actually all felt like we had accomplished something to get this far. It’s beautiful! Make no mistake. This is a gorgeous scenic hike!
There were definitely family building moments as we crossed some treacherous ground. There was actually a gap in the trail at this point where you had to step over the canyon. It wasn’t a big deal for my husband and I but the kids were petrified. Little Jason actually slipped and lost his footing right over the canyon, but of course Daddy had a good hold on him.
Whew! We all made it back safe and thirsty. We downed the last of the water as we made it to the beginning of the trail. As difficult as the hike was for our family we were all glad that we had done it. It was such a beautiful place to explore with the kids.
If you are in the area and feel the difficulty level is too tough for your crew, you should still spend some time exploring or even heading out on the trail until the terrain gets too difficult. My husband and I would love to hike Church Rock again!