3 Reasons to Explore the Bisti Badlands
If you’ve already seen the Bisti Badlands, you probably don’t need any persuasion to see it again. It’s the kind of place that New Mexicans are naturally drawn to. In fact, this beautiful bit of wilderness is one of New Mexico’s most interesting and unique sites for discovering, exploring, and learning about the strange nature of a New Mexico desert. If you’ve never seen the Bisti Badlands, aka, Bisti Wilderness or De-Na-Zin Wilderness, then this list is for you. Here are 3 reasons to explore the Bisti Badlands on your next New Mexico adventure.
1. One of a Kind Rock Formations
The word “Bisti” means “among adobe formations” in Navajo language, and the one of a kind rock formations are the number one reason to visit. These rock formations are not just interesting in color and shape, but tell an intriguing story of the history of the area with their layers of sandstone, ash, and shale.
The rocks here have been molded into the most unusual shapes through centuries of erosion in a land that was the bottom of coastal swamps and shallow seas over 70 million years ago. More recently, 50 to 30 million years ago, the rain started wearing down the rocks as the Rocky Mountains and other ranges rose around Bisti, wearing into the sandstone and revealing the softer layers of coal and shale.
These rock formations look just strange enough to appear almost alien in the mystic atmosphere of the desert. You’ll find many mazes of stone shapes and tall rock spires called hoodoos. The hoodoos can look like columns, mushrooms, and strange cracked eggs, while other rock formations look like enormous walnuts, clams, and monsters. You’ll also find petrified trees and maybe even a fossil or two on your trek through the badlands.
2. Ancient Artwork on the Rocks
“De-Na-Zin,” as the area is also known, means “crane,” referring to petroglyphs of the bird found in the south of the wilderness of the Badlands. In this area, there are fewer hoodoos and the hills are larger with more sand than ash. This is where ancient petroglyphs, or rock art, can be found with images of cranes. These interesting images give visitors something to search for, marvel at, and think about while exploring the area and considering the stories, the history, and the culture woven into the rocks.
3. Meeting the Majestic Wildlife
The Bisti Badlands are home to a few species of rare and majestic wildlife, including ferruginous hawks, prairie falcons, and golden eagles. There are also burrowing owls, piñon jays, prairie dogs, ravens, badgers, doves, coyotes, rabbits, and quail. Naturally, you can also find snakes, lizards, scorpions, and even tarantulas. If you keep your eyes peeled and take your time, you’ll get plenty of opportunities for bird watching and wildlife photographs, while avoiding any awkward encounters with poisonous snakes or scorpions.
Be Cautious in the Wilderness
There are many reasons to experience the Bisti Badlands, but be aware of your surroundings and cautious while you’re there. Knowing the rules before you go will ensure that you don’t disrupt nature or harm the wildlife. For instance, you can’t take home any fossils, and you can’t climb on or otherwise disturb or damage the beautiful rock formations. You are allowed to hike, backpack, and camp in the area, but you can’t bring any bicycles or vehicles. You also have to be aware that there are no facilities and be prepared.
Finally, if you are fortunate enough to experience the majestic wildlife of the De-Na-Zin Wilderness, don’t bother the animals. Take pictures from a safe distance and always keep a lot of space between yourself and the animals you see. Startling or frightening a bird could result in an abandoned nest, and getting too close to the wrong snake could result in an emergency situation. Just pay attention, be safe, and don’t litter or disturb the environment.
If you needed a reason to see the Bisti Badlands, you’ve got three good ones to work with. So, go out and have yourself an exciting New Mexico adventure; then, tell us all about it.