Badlands of New Mexico's San Juan Basin

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New Mexico, United States, North America
Spring, Fall
6000 ft / 1829 m
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Badlands of New Mexico's San Juan Basin
Created On: Nov 18, 2017
Last Edited On: Feb 17, 2018


New Mexico’s San Juan Basin is an arid plateau that sits at an elevation of 5500-6500 ft in the northwestern corner of the state. The plateau is sparsely populated. Much of it falls inside the boundaries of Native American Tribal Lands. Scenic badlands can be found in many places on the plateau, usually along the length of escarpments or dry arroyos. These areas often include colorful eroded hills gouged by networks of ravines, strangely shaped hoodoos and petrified wood/fossils. Despite their fantastic beauty, no national park preserves any of the badlands (see Chaco Park below). The Bureau of Land Management has however declared several areas as wilderness. These, among others, include: Bisti/De-Na-Zin, Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah and Angel Peak. There are no trails inside the wilderness areas. You will have to explore them on your own.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park sits on the south side of San Juan Basin. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to explore the park but it is my understanding that it preserves the remains of the ancestral Pueblo civilization that flourished in the area between 850 and 1250 A.D.

King of Wings

King of Wings Hoodoo

De-Na-Zin Arch

De-Na-Zin Arch

Getting There

Access to the wilderness areas can be had via New Mexico Route 371 and US Rote 550 south of the towns of Farmington and Bloomfield (see individual pages attached).

Chocolate Hoodoo Basin

Hoodoos in Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah area

Bonnet Twin Hoodoo
Bonnet Twin Hoodoo
Angel Peak
Angel Peak

Red Tape

No fees or permits required.

Badlands of New Mexico's San Juan Basin

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