Earlier this year, I drove out to the Bisti Badlands with Sonia and Mary. We’d been talking about it for ages, so it was amazing to finally see the badlands in person. The Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area is in Eastern Navajo Agency and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
It’s about a three hour drive northwest from Santa Fe. We left in the morning, and got to the badlands just after lunchtime. It was a sunny day, but quite windy and cold. From the parking area, we could see a trail and some formations in the distance. As we walked out furthur the formations were everywhere, ranging in size from inches high to ones that towered above us. The wind was so strong that it was easy to imagine how these hoodoos (the spires and other forms created from wind erosion over time) were formed. The ground is made up of sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt, with most of the hoodoos formed from sandstone.
The BLM’s website offers this tranlation of the Bisti/De-Na-Zin from Navajo/Diné: ““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."“.
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area is a surreal place, straight from an illustrated cover of a fantasy novel. The wind creates the formations, and it also blows away the trails. We wandered around for hours, keeping track of where we were headed so that we wouldn’t get lost, as is easy to do among the hoodoos. I would love to go again in warmer weather, to see it in a different season. I defintely recommend a visit to see this magical place.