Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bisti Wilderness

The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a 38,305 acres eroded badlands area south of Farmington in northwest New Mexico. The Bisti access is the west side of the area and is 36.5 miles south of the San Juan River along New Mexico route 371, then 2 miles east on county road 7297. Highway signs call attention to the Bisti Wilderness and there were three of four other vehicles there during my visit. There may be a second parking area a short distance north.

Standing at the entry sign and looking easterly at the odd terrain, it looked like most visitors hike slightly south and east where it appears flat and open, and there is a wide dry wash. There aren’t any official trails here, any maps, or any interpretation at the site.

The Fruitland Formation makes up most of what is visible and contains sandstones, shales, mudstones, coal, and silt. These formations are 65-80 million years old. Hiking east into the open area, there is a fenced in space with a pond inside that takes about 15 minutes to get past. I turned north at the fence line and walked into an area of colorful eroded hills.

I climbed a small hill for a view of the some of the nearby formations. There is an on-line brochure for the area available on the BLM web site. The brochure says that the red color that stands out is due to clay soils baked by coal fires while buried millions of years ago. It looked like some black coal seams were visible in the formations near the access parking area. I think a mile or so further east there is some petrified wood and some formations that are called the cracked eggs.

My hike at the Bisti access was only for 1:00 hour on a warm and sunny 85 F degree late September day. I only sampled the entry point in an area where there are many square miles to explore. I also visited the De-Na-Zin access, the eastern section, on the same day.

No comments: