Land That Time (and Roads) Forgot: Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (NM)


Of all the places in the Southwest, known for its extraordinary rock formations, that can claim the title of the weirdest and most fantastical, it would have to go to a part of New Mexico virtually inaccessible by car—the vast wildernesses of Bisti and De-Na-Zin.

Visitors most likely to make the effort are adventurers, the curious and the intrepid photographer. Bisti and De-Na-Zin are separate BLM-administered wilderness areas, spread out over 40,000 acres in a badlands setting, each with its own access road and each with its distinctive yet similar formations. These areas are so removed from amenities that you either have to do day-visits or camp out with your own supplies. There are no facilities or clearly defined trails, which means you have to rely on your own resources and navigational skills (or hiking GPS unit) to feel comfortable there.

Access to De-Na-Zin is on an unpaved road from Hwy 371 about 14 miles in to a dirt parking lot. Once you step outside, it becomes clear that at least a compass is needed from there. Except for a short asphalt path, the remainder of the area has none. The eroded shapes that are here, mostly looking like mushrooms, are far and few between—or, at least, we never found a concentration of them. We made it a point of arriving before sunset when the lighting shows the hoodoos to best photographic effect. Some people spend a few days here. As the sun was getting lower on the horizon, we were anxious to get back. I was sure to notice a high clump of trees at the start before we went wandering off. Even then, after going over many hills and valleys, we lost track of them, but eventually we spotted them and got back to the car before sunset.

For a better viewing experience, check out this YouTube video compiled by nattyntrey from a visit to Bisti.

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