Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness


Bizarre. Otherworldly. Wild. Disorienting. These are some of the words that pop off the top of my head as I think about the few hours I spent in the Bisti Badlands.

After my time in Grants, I imagined I’d spend most of the day wandering through Bisti, then end up in Chaco Canyon for an overnight camp in the car. Fine – plan set. Then the wind came. Then I got slightly lost as I was exploring Bisti. And then I didn’t know if I had enough gas to get me to Chaco and back. And, long story short, that was that – all prior plans aborted!

ANYWAY…The Long Story: I headed to Bisti right after my very short excursion in El Malpais. I believe Siri routed me up NM-371 to some dirt road that was about 2 miles long to one of the parking areas within the Bisti Wilderness. (I was driving a rented Yaris and made it there, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have an SUV.) The drive was gorgeous, of course, through the Continental Divide area with its red rock formations and through Navajo country. I saw quite a number of yurts – yes, I have a round house OBSESSION – and I spotted a bunch of wild horses along the way too.

I did some research before the trip and knew that there weren’t any marked trails within Bisti. And that I was going to hike alone, which was also ill-advised. So, when I got out of the car, I grabbed my water and sunglasses, dropped a pin on the map with my iPhone, and started making my way through the strange badlands all around me. Almost immediately, the winds kicked up AGAIN and sand was a-flyin’! I was determined to see ‘all that Bisti has to offer’, so I just pulled my hoodie tighter and kept on walking. Then a jack rabbit jumped out of nowhere. I was startled, but I kept on walking. Determined, yes.

After about an hour of wandering and snapping pix, I was like, “Blah, blah, blah. Rocks. Blah, blah, blah. Desert. Blah, blah, blah. Wind. Blah, blah, blah. Badlands. Blah, blah, blah. BORED.” Can you believe it? So I started to make my way back to my car. I clicked on Maps to route me back to my saved location and whaddya know: NO SERVICE! !#!%?! Talk about freaking out! I tried to remain calm as I headed towards the rock formation that *appeared to be* most like the one I parked next to. Well, let’s just say a lot of rock formations look the same in Bisti.

But despite my phone’s nonsense and the endless maze of badlands, I finally made it back to my car. You may have guessed that already. ;-P

After that small scare, I decided to only pull off from the main road and wander slightly away from my car to take photos. And by that time the wind was even worse anyway. So it all worked out.

My advice if you go to Bisti: take a pack w/plenty of supplies (just in case), make sure you start your GPS while you have service and BEFORE you start wandering, and go with a friend.