Mar 16 – Bisti De-Na-Zin Badlands

When we initially crossed into New Mexico I felt like I was in an alien landscape.  It’s quite barren save for Shiprock which in it’s stately demeanor says “untouchable,” and means it. We got settled in our RV Park on the outskirts of Farmington which is one of the larger cities in New Mexico, so we were able to stock up on some necessary items.  While I’m not a fan of Walmart due to their employment practices, I need to get over it as they are the only consistent chain where we can get what we need for BigB.  

We had a pleasantly quiet morning along with a hot shower and set out to the Bisti Badlands.  

Bisti is off a service road about 35 miles south of Farmington.  To get there we had to drive a three mile gravelled road to the BLM parking area.   While not full of potholes, it was a bit washerboard and we could only go five miles per hour – the going was rough.  Even though it took twenty minutes it seemed like forever.  People haul their RVs down that road all the time but it isn’t much fun.

When we reached the parking there was nothing to see except desert and some distant mounds. The lot was fairly full with another RV parked there – we couldn’t see any signs of life though. 

There really isn’t a trail to the hoodoo’s or what I view as stone mutations.  You follow a wash but there are cataracts of washes so it isn’t entirely clear; if you see other people you follow on faith but they might not know where they are going either.  We stumbled across the first “forest” which turned out to be a fun playground of exploration.  

The hoodoos look fragile, but are actually quite solid having been molded by a millennia of sun and wind.  They are formed from sandstone, but not really petrified, except for the fallen trees that date back to the Stone Age. It is here where they discovered the “Bisti Beast,” a smaller version of T Rex.  

If these forms were whipped together by spirits or aliens we couldn’t find them – they did a good job of hiding in the many nooks and crannies: It’s a place that equally shifts and is frozen in time when no one is looking – a space/time continuum thing.

The table tops are even more fantastical as they somehow remain propped up by one of the spirits that refuses to reveal itself. 

That’s Bob – not to be confused with the resident spirits

Walking a mile further we found larger hoodoos and also a bit of a debris field of curious formations created by a lot of mischief.  

Otherwise the landscape is desolate and reminded me of those westerns where people slowly die of thirst as they wander nowhere – hence the name ”badlands” I suppose. Add the wind that started to whip up and the clouds on the horizon, we decided to turn back.  It’s always a great workout fighting headwind on a hike – but not the “Lady in the Wind” experience I had hoped for. 

We had a nice afternoon tea in BigB to regroup and warm up.

Once back on the main highway, and after checking whether our teeth were still intact from the service road maze, we realized there were similar formations on the side of the road.  I suspect what we had just hiked was simply a tease designed by those shape-shifting spirits who have bargained with the folks at BLM to toy with us humans.