Bisti/De-Na-Zin is one wilderness area but Bisti and De-Na-Zin are 15 aerial miles apart. This page is about Bisti only. For information about De-Na-Zin, click here
Bisti is the largest and most scenic of all of the scenic badlands of northwestern New Mexico’s San Juan Basin. It is a fairyland of eroded colorful hills, deep ravines, strangely shaped hoodoos, rock gardens and petrified wood. Like other nearby badlands, Bisti does not have any trails. If you wander around aimlessly, you will still be rewarded with fantastic views but if you want to find the features described on this page, GPS is recommended. Below, you will find my 12.75 mile loop hike in search of some of the features of the area imported into my GPS from the website referenced at the bottom of the page.
From the intersection of Routes 64 and 371 in Farmington, New Mexico, drive 35 miles south on 371 and turn east (left) onto Road 7297. Go 2 miles on 7297 to reach a T with Road 7290. Turn north (left) onto Road 7290 and go one mile to the signed parking for Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. Roads 7290 and 7297 are well graded dirt roads and under dry conditions should be passable to any car.
This is a description of my hike (blue line) in search of red colored Google Map pins imported into my GPS from this website: http://www.aztecnm.com/recreation/bisti/visit.html
Maximum Elevation: 5900 ft
Minimum Elevation: 5730 ft
From the parking area, I headed east/northeast into a broad dry wash then turned south into the eroded badlands in search of “The Drum Stick”. I was looking for a standing hoodoo which I did not find. Later I found that The Drum Stick was a rock on the ground. View of the badlands.
Went back to the main dry wash and continued northeast. View of the red hills to the north.
I then reached the Flat Top Arch area.
Flat Top Arch.
Continuing east and then south toward Komainu area.
Komainu (Lion-Dog) Hoodoo.
Going toward Paint Palette Hoodoo.
Paint Palette Hoodoo.
Onto Egg Hatchery.
Egg Hatchery area.
Going to Petrified Log area.
Petrified Log #37, said to be 36 ft long.
More big logs.
Into a side ravine in search of more petrified logs.
Out of the ravine. The impressive Bisti Butte rose majestically.
Flying Gator Arch.
Near Knight’s Arch.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of formations in Two Snakes Hoodoo area. Which one was Two Snakes?
I then went back into the main dry wash and continued east up the branching canyons.
Canyon becoming tighter.
In a place where the walls allowed it, I climbed to the top of the ridgeline. Views from the top.
Went back down into the canyon going west retracing the path I had come. Nameless formation in the canyon.
Canyon opening up.
Continued back down the main wash past Flying Gator Hoodoo to reach Petrified Log 13.
Went north into the white and red/brown hills to find Two Windows Arch.
Bisti Rock Garden.
A big flat white plain on the way to Petrified Stumps area.
Finding Petrified Stumps.
Continuing north and west into the wild colorful hills.
I called this the Metal Post Butte. Went to the metal post to find an apparently very old sign that had faded beyond readability.
Contemplated going to Hunter Wash Hoodoo but it was getting late and the endless meandering ravines seemed very time consuming.
Changed direction and went toward The Wings Hoodoos which I don’t think I saw but I found these hoodoos some of which seemed to be winged.
Bonnet Twins Hoodoos.
Doo Doo Bird Hoodoo.
Turned south and began to take a long hike back to the main Bisti dry wash. Went past this big butte which I called K2 Butte.
Headed west down the main dry wash to reach the parking area where I had started. View of red hills to the north.
Verbal permission obtained over the phone (888 543 4629) 11/18/17, 12:30 pm Central Time Zone.
No fees or permits required
When to Visit
Winter will be cold and summer can get dangerously hot. Summer can also bring afternoon monsoons making the dirt roads impassable. Spring and fall are the best times to visit.