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Bisti Badlands Sunrise Loop

Easy/Intermediate
 4.2 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

The Bisti Badlands are a BLM-managed area full of strange rock formations, fossils, and geologic interest.


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Map Key

5.3

Miles

8.6

KM

Loop

5,830' 1,777 m

High

5,772' 1,759 m

Low

99' 30 m

Up

99' 30 m

Down

1%

Avg Grade (0°)

4%

Max Grade (2°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly If you go during a temperate time of year, hearty kids with a sense of adventure will enjoy this hike. Be sure they are ready for a hike of this distance in the expected conditions.

Contact the Farmington NM BLM office at (505) 564-7600 and look for signs posted at the parking lot for any current restrictions.

Overview

Immerse yourself in the Bisti Badlands for a first-hand experience with nature's wondrous geologic creations.

Unlike most places these days, the Bisti has no formal trails. However, with a keen eye and an intrepid spirit, your reward for heading into the wildlands will be fantastic views, total seclusion, and piles of multi-colored rocks, sand, and boundless beauty.

Need to Know

As you'll be spending most of the time hiking in a large wash, keep an eye on the upstream weather. Rainfall upstream could spell disaster in a matter of minutes. If you suspect rain ahead, or see it coming downstream, quickly climb out of the wash and up to high ground for safety.

When this area is muddy, the hike will become VERY slick, so expect to gain a few inches in height from the mud caking on your feet.

Description

From the parking lot, start out on the flat following the main wash to the northeast for ~0.75 miles until you pass the end of the fenced area of Navajo land. Cross the main wash and take a turn NNE heading into the hills. By about the 1 mile point, you'll have hills on both sides and "cannon balls" may start to appear at the foot of some of the hills. Watch your footing!

The ground will now be a mixture of hardpack and sand in lower-lying places. From here, you'll need to scramble over a few passes to get into the hills and gain some altitude. Start watching for small water tunnels, as they indicate hollow hills to be extra careful on. There are places where the hills collapse into these hollows and result in a 20+ foot deep pit of broken rocks that you don't want to end up in.

Around 2 miles in on the top of the ridge, there will be some hoodoos with a clear view to the east that offer ethereal views during sunrise. From here, head around to the east where you'll want to recross the main wash. In the hills to the south you'll find a petrified forest. Trees once up to 3 feet in diameter fell and were buried in ash, preserved for millennia as their molecules became replaced with silica. Continue along the loop to find Cracked Egg formations and intimate landscapes tucked into every hill and wash.

Explore away in these areas before returning along the main wash to the parking area.

PLEASE DO NOT DAMAGE THE FORMATIONS. They are delicate works of natural art that took millennia to create and can't be put back together.

Flora & Fauna

There's not much out this way save for some desert grasses, sage, and a few cacti. Seldom, you might see a few hardscrabble rabbits, a fox, or a coyote. Hawks can often be seen looking for lunch. While I have yet to see any, snakes and scorpions are likely present.

Contacts

Shared By:

Rob M.

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 5 votes

#2955

Overall
  4.2 from 5 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#38

in New Mexico

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Photos

The sun rises over Bisti De Na Zin Wilderness Area.
May 8, 2017 near Farmington, NM
Petrified trees abound in the Bisti.
May 8, 2017 near Farmington, NM
This is one of the "Cracked Eggs" you may encounter in the Bisti De Na Zin Wilderness Area.
May 8, 2017 near Farmington, NM

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Check-Ins

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Apr 25, 2020
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