BISTI Badlands / De-na-zin Wilderness

The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area covers roughly 60 square miles of remote badlands just south of Farmington, New Mexico. This high desert wilderness features a vast landscape containing some of the most unique rock formation on this planet. The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness was once a coastal swamp of an inland sea; and was home to many large trees, reptiles, dinosaurs and primitive mammals. What visitors see today is the preserved record of this pre-historic swamp that is now a true desert wilderness.

You can reach some of the most astonishing landscapes with hikes of 2 to 5 miles round trip. It is best to travel in the early morning and late afternoon. There are no marked trails in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness and it is easy to get confused or lost. A GPS or compass is helpful and pay close attention to your surroundings. Take plenty of water, protective clothing and footwear appropriate for the season. Remember that cell phone service is spotty.

Best access to the Bisti

Bisti Access Parking
To reach the Bisti Access Parking Area, Drive NM 371 just under 36 miles south of Farmington (from the San Juan River crossing) or just under 45 miles north of Crownpoint (from the intersection of 371 and Navajo Service Route 9), and turn east on Road 7297 (a gravel road). Drive Road 7297 for approximately 2 miles to a T-intersection and turn left. Drive just under one mile to the Bisti Access Parking Area, which is just south of a broad wash on the east side of the road. There is another, smaller parking area 1/4 mile further north.

De-Na-Zin Trailhead
To reach the De-Na-Zin access, Drive NM 371 approximately 43 3/4 miles south of Farmington (from the San Juan River crossing) or approximately 37 1/4 miles north of Crownpoint (from the intersection of 371 and Navajo Service Route 9), and turn east on County Road 7500. Drive approximately 13 1/4 miles on Road 7500 to the De-Na-Zin parking area (on the left side of the road). Alternatively, drive US 550, 4 miles north of NM 57, and turn west onto County Road 7500. Drive approximately 11 1/4 miles to the De-Na-Zin parking area (on the right side of the road). A trail leads from the parking area approximately 3/4 mile to the De-Na-Zin Wash.


What to do?

  • Hike
  • Explore unique landscapes
  • Identify fossils and petrified wood
  • Photography
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Camp
  • Pack out what you pack in

What not to do?

  • Motorized vehicles are not permitted in the wilderness.
  • Campfires are not permitted.
  • Do not remove rocks, fossils or petrified wood.

Golden Eagles, Ferruginous Hawks, and Prairie Falcons

The Bits/De-Na-Zen badlands support a small number of nesting golden eagles, ferruginous hawks, and prairie falcons. All of these species are extremely susceptible to human disturbance during the nesting season from February 1 to July 1. If the adult birds are approached too closely, even for a short time, they will likely abandon the nest, leaving their eggs or young to die of exposure. Be aware that disturbing nesting eagles is a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668c; 50 CFR 22.3) and could result in civil or criminal penalties.

If you see a perched eagle, hawk or falcon, please do not approach the bird. If you encounter a stick nest, please leave the area and move at least 500 yards away as quietly and quickly as possible. Your cooperation is vital in protecting the future of these rare birds in the wilderness.

Things to know before you go

  • There are no facilities.
  • There are no marked trails.
  • Bring lots of water.
  • Good hiking shoes are a must.
  • Cell phone recpetion is spotty.
  • Cost: Free
  • Best time to visit is in the late spring/early summer or in the Fall.
  • Check the weather before visiting. Roads and terrain may become impassible in wet weather. Watch for flash floods in the wash.
  • It is easy to get lost while exploring. Bring a GPS unit or compass to help navigate the area. Keep an eye on where the wash is. You can always come back to the wash and find your way back to the parking area by following it to the west.
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