Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a rolling landscape of badlands which offers some of the most unusual scenery found in the Four Corners Region. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations made of interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt. The weathering of the sandstone forms hoodoos - weathered rock in the form of pinnacles, spires, cap rocks, and other unusual forms. Fossils occur in this sedimentary landform. Translated from the Navajo language, Bisti (Bis-tie) means "a large area of shale hills." De-Na-Zin (Deh-nah-zin) takes its name from the Navajo words for "cranes."
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Open year-round.
- Because of the climate, most of the visits occur in the late spring/early summer and in the fall.
- Since this is a Wilderness Area, it is closed to motorized vehicles, and mechanical forms of transportation including any wheeled devices (drones, mountain bikes, strollers, carts, coolers with wheels and etcetera).
- Also prohibited are campfires, collecting fossils or petrified wood, climbing on delicate geologic features, traveling in groups of more than nine people, and trespassing on adjacent tribal lands.
- Permits are required for uses such as guided tours, photography workshops, scientific research, and grazing.
- Though these trailheads are off regularly maintained roads, they are not paved. County Road 7500 can become extremely slick and impassible when wet and is sandy in places when dry. Conditions of roads can change at any time due to weather. Drivers should avoid dirt roads during rain or snow. Drivers should be cautious of wash-out following rain or snowmelt.
- Make sure someone outside of your party knows your hiking plans.
- It is easy to become disoriented and lost when hiking in the badlands environment. Please bring a map and an orienting device (compass, smart phone mapping App). When hiking from the Bisti Trailhead keep track of the main drainage at the trailhead which drains the Wilderness to the west towards the trailhead and the Chuska Mountains also to the West. This drainage and the Chuska Mountains are useful landmarks to help with orientation when hiking from the Bisti Trailhead.
- There is very little shade in the badlands and temperatures can become dangerously hot in summer. Plan summer visits around cooler times of the day and bring plenty of water, snacks and clothing to protect from sun exposure. Conversely, the badlands can be extremely cold in winter.
- Though camping in the Wilderness is a rewarding experience, there are no water sources. Visitors must carry all the water they will need for the duration of the trip.
To reach the Bisti Trailhead, 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 Trailhead, 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.
To reach the De-Na-Zin Trailhead by the best route drive US 550, 12 miles south of the Speedway Gas Station south of Bloomfield or 4 miles north of NM 57 and turn west onto County Road 7500. Drive approximately 11 1/4 miles to the De-Na-Zin Trailhead (on the right side of the road). A trail leads from the parking area approximately 3/4 mile to the De-Na-Zin Wash. An alternative route that includes a section of rougher dirt roads that are more prone to weather related hazards is to 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).”