The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area covers roughly 60 square miles of remote badlands south of Farmington, NM. The wilderness features steeply eroded hills and formations that offer the most unusual scenery in New Mexico. The Wilderness was once a coastal swamp of an inland sea and was home to many large trees, reptiles, dinosaurs and primitive mammals. What you see today is the preserved record of this swamp that is now a true desert wilderness. The best formations are two to five miles from the parking area.
The two major geological formations found in the wilderness are the Fruitland Formation and the Kirtland Shale. The Fruitland Formation makes up most of what the visitor will see while in the badlands and contains interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt. The weathering of the sandstone forms the many spires and hoodoos (sculpted rock) found throughout the area. The Kirtland Shale contains rock of various colors and dominates the eastern part of the wilderness.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness to protect the area’s natural environment, special features, and opportunities for solitude and recreation. Recreational activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, wildlife viewing, photography, and horseback riding.
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 it is important to pay close attention to your surroundings. Take plenty of water, protective clothing and footwear appropriate for the season. No cell phone service is available.
The Bisti access is off State Highway 371 at Road 7297, about 40 miles south of Farmington, NM. Follow the gravel Road 7297 for about two miles to the parking area. Please note that Road 7297 does NOT go through the wilderness as marked on most maps.
The Bisit can be visited year round. However, Road 7297 is a gravel road and can become impassible in wet weather.