Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness 4/19-21/21


off my rocker
Jun 14, 2016
The season opener for my 2021 backpacking was a pair of nights in the Bisti Badlands of New Mexico. After a visit to some Wyoming badlands last summer I’m coming to a strong appreciation and enjoyment of these terrains. So stark, so harsh, so quiet, so elemental.

After a bit too much driving, I was more than ready to get out of the ’civilized’. I left the access point at a little before 6:00p with 8 liters of water and a plan to wander aimlessly. I like to do minimal research and planning, preferring to wing it as much as possible. One can find lots of info and pictures online, including GPS points for the popular features, but I’d rather not.

i found a trail and followed it. After a bit the footprints were gone as I continued on a cow path along the edge of the badlands. When I saw a homestead ahead in the distance I decided it was time to veer off back into the badlands proper. It was quite difficult to find a safe route down. I dislike marring the landscape with my footprints so I stuck to the solid surfaces whenever I could. Thankfully a maverick cow or two had made attempts to get in and I used their experience to help me on. I was up against the coming dark and pleased to get to the bottom and a nice flat spot just before night. I slept in the open.

The morning was warm and calm. I set about my plan to wander aimlessly. I went up and down and around a few of the washes. Late in the afternoon I headed back towards the road for a timely exit next day. My camp was not far from where I’d slept the first night. The strong wind blew through my sleeping bag zipper as the temp bottomed not far above freezing. I didn’t sleep so well. In the morning I skipped the hot food and drink, quickly gathering my gear. It was chilly enough to hike in my puffy almost all the way out.





















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Life really is better Here
Apr 20, 2013
Those are my kind of campsites.
I really like those photos in the evening sun. It's an interesting area that I just have not justified the drive yet.


Feb 5, 2021
Camping out there must feel a little like being on Mars! We made the trek out there in December of 2018. We stayed in our truck camper and did 5 different hikes into different parts of the badlands. We had a few waypoints but it was mostly wandering around and going wherever it looked interesting. It's an amazing place and I think we saw 2 people the entire trip.



off my rocker
Jun 14, 2016
Thanks @Ugly and @napatony13 and all.
It is kind of off by itself in the middle of nowhere. I was coming from the East and had an appointment at the Grand Canyon North Rim so it wasn’t so much extra to pass by. I really wanted to go there and wish I’d had more time. I want to go back when I have a week or more to get into it.
Sleeping out there does totally feel like Mars except for the breathing air part and it is out of the way but not all that far. Out in the open is always the best when workable and the stars there were great. I might have set the shelter the second night for warmth and wind except the flat ground is like cement and dragging out a bunch of rocks just felt inappropriate in such a landscape. I’d rather not leave any mark of my passing. No precip so not so bad. A bivy sack would have been perfect. It seems like a relatively safe place to wander. Just walk West to cross the paved road.
It must have been really chilly in December and windy. I bet I’d opt for the truck too. You must have seen plenty in 5 day hikes. That wing is huge! There were 8 vehicles at the parking lot when I got there at 5:00p, 5 were gone in the 45 minutes I used to pack. The other 3, including 2 big rigs, were clearly spending the night. Plenty of other spots nearby. On the hike I saw only one couple. Must probably don’t get more than a few miles in.
Badlands are so cool. I’m headed to another soon.


Feb 5, 2021
If you go back we did 3 of the hikes out in or near the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness area. If you do that you can take the "back" way into Chaco Canyon which is really worth a visit. I've read that the main route into Chaco from the south is a horrible road...the gravel roads we were on were fantastic...cruised at 60+ on some of them! The "King of Wings" is really an odd's off by itself with virtually no other formations around it, much different from all the other areas we went to.


Aug 18, 2018
Fascinating landscape and the petrified log is super cool. Thanks for sharing. One day we will visit, it’s been on our list for a while now.


Sep 22, 2016
It really is a fascinating area to explore! We took the (mostly) good side roads from Chaco, camped nearby and spent an evening and then a full day simply wandering around. While we had a few well known features on the agenda such as the "Dinosaur Eggs", the best part was checking out all the nooks and crannies. It seems that many visitors have the "Eggs" as their only goal- we were passed along the way by two groups straightlining across the flats, glued to their GPS screens. Their loss!
IMGP9479 copy 2.jpg


Mar 1, 2018
Just curious, you mentioned you visited the Wyoming badlands. Are you talking about the ones just outside of Dubois? If so, I'd love to have more details about them. I remember seeing them on my way into the northern winds and last year but didn't find much backpacking/hiking info on them online.
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