There are still some vast untamed wilderness areas out west in this modern age that few people venture into. The reason why few tourists explore these places is usually because access is limited to high ground clearance vehicles or hikers. The paved roads will only take you to a limited amount of destinations out west, so those who have a high ground clearance vehicle and can do some hiking will stand a chance to experience much more. A good example of how the physical nature of the terrain limits access can be found in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness of New Mexico, which is where the notoriously impassible Bisti Badlands are located.
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness covers 45,000 acres of pristine land just a few miles north of the Chaco Culture National Heritage Park in west central New Mexico. U.S. Highway 550 runs along the eastern border of this wilderness area and State Road 371 skirts along the entire western end of this park. In between these two paved highways, there are only a few rough dirt roads that go over the smoothest parts of the terrain in this desolate region. There are no dirt roads to be found inside the Bisti Badlands area, simply because the terrain is so rough.
Pockets of badlands can be found throughout the entire Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area. In fact, pockets of badlands terrain can be found everywhere in this region. The badlands in the Angel Peak Scenic Area east of Highway 550 is a good example. The signature mushroom rock formations can even be seen south of Chaco Canyon along State Road 57. There are many pockets of badlands to explore in the vast Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness and the highest concentration can be found in the western end of the park.
The Bisti Badlands Parking Access is not always easy to find on a map, because the dirt access road to the parking area does not show up on every GPS device. When traveling on SR 371 about 36 miles south of Farmington, the dirt road to look for is Road 7293 going east, which may be marked with a small sign on a fence post, but the big sign for a local church is the best marker to look for.
Road 7293 is a fairly smooth dirt road that runs east through a dry wash flood plain for a few hundred yards to a small church at the edge of the Bisti Badlands. The fenced off parking area next to the badlands actually is the church parking lot and the Bisti Badlands Parking Area can be found next to the dry wash ravine. Since this is a desert dry wash, it is prone to flash floods, so it is best not to park near the low ground if rain is in the forecast. When wet, the dirt road will likely turn into impassible mud, so it is best to heed rainy forecasts in this area.
Hiking is the best way to experience the Bisti Badlands, because the most interesting rock formations are hidden from view along the dirt road. However, if it looks like rain, hiking in the badlands is not a good idea either, because of the threat of flash floods and because there is nowhere to hide from lightning strikes. On a clear sunny day, the Bisti Badlands will offer endless hours of fun filled hiking around in this vast maze of strange looking rock formations. Bisti is the land of mushroom rocks and these weird geological oddities do look like they belong on another planet!
As can be seen in the photos, it was a windy rainy overcast day at the Bisti Badlands during my visit, so a lengthy hiking tour into this majestic place had to wait till another time. The information in this article may be of help for those who are interested in finding the Bisti Badlands parking access, which is a good start. The photos were taken along the dirt road on the western edge of the Bisti Badlands and the geological mushroom rock features are only modestly expressed in this area. For those who do the hike, the best is yet to come!
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