Little visited and largely unknown, the Bisti Wilderness Area, or in Navajo “De Na Zin” (which means “cranes”) is located about 91 miles south of Durango (Colorado) or 170 miles northwest of Albuquerque (New Mexico) in northern New Mexico. This spot is a perfect place to go during the late fall, winter and early spring and is good to hike when the mountains are full of snow.
The badlands named “Bisti” (which is the Navajo word for badlands) – phantasmagorical formations of earth and stone in northwestern New Mexico’s high desert lands – were once part of an inland sea during the mid to late cretaceous period (65-70 million years ago) which slowly drained away and became a huge swamp area. It was the home to many large reptiles — including the duck-billed dinosaur. Also, remains of the ancient Anasazi culture, and evidence of prehistoric activities from 6,000 B.C. has been found nearby.
The Bureau of Land Management administers the Bisti and endeavors to maintain it as a wilderness. The BLM requires no permits. There are no water sources so be sure to have plenty.
The nearest large towns with hotels close to the Bisti Badlands are Bloomfield (48 miles), Farmington (35 miles) and Grants (102 miles).
To reach the Bisti Badlands, travel thirty seven and a half miles south of Farmington, on State Highway 371. Turn east at BLM’s Bisti marker, drive two miles on a dirt road until you reach a “T.” Turn north, drive two more miles on a dirt road until you reach the small parking area at the entrance to the Bisti.
Bisti Badlands is definitely a road less traveled and if you want a place to get away from it all, this is the place. It has energy, beauty and geology that is both fascinating and surreal. And it’s in New Mexico, the home of Roswell and aliens encounters. What could you wish more?