In the middle of the Jemez mountain range in New Mexico, stands a huge rock that is roughly in the shape of a teapot. Virtually alone in a grassy clearing, Teakettle Rock looks a bit out of place, like it was flown in by helicopter and dropped there on purpose.
Of course, there is a logical explanation for its existence. Teakettle Rock is made of Cutler sandstone, laid down around 300 million years ago when the area was the bed of an inland sea. Over the eons, the rock around it was gradually worn down by erosion, molding it into the interesting shape it is today.
Local legend has it that Pecos Bill himself used to brew green tea with the giant teapot. Green stains on one side of the rock lend some credence to this theory, though mineral staining is the far more likely explanation. In addition to the “spout” of the teakettle, there are additional arches in the rock, and a small cave. With care, it is even possible to scale the rock without equipment.
Know Before You Go
Teakettle’s setting in the remote wilderness can make access somewhat complicated. There are many treacherous dirt roads into the area, and it is easy to blow out a tire before you realize you’re going the wrong way. The best dirt road that is suitable for most 4WD cars is accessible from the north, off NM Road 96. Turn from that road onto Forest Road 172, and continue to Resumidero Campground. From there, continue on Forest Road 193 until you reach Forest Road 103, then turn left and continue to Teakettle Rock. FR 103 is also accessible from the south, from State Highway 126 west of the Valles Caldera. Dirt road conditions can vary, and it is best to check satellite images and weather reports before going, and chat with passersby on the way to confirm suitable road conditions.
You may notice some graffiti inscribed into the rock. This is the work of vandals, and it is not okay to add your own inscription.