Saturday, April 23, 2016

Other Worldly Bisti Wilderness

In mid-March, we needed a getaway. So, even though the weather was still a little cold - we took off after work on a Thursday and headed to Bisti Wilderness. Since we got a late start, we stayed the first night at the Apache Nugget Travel Center and Casino on Highway 550 about 22 miles west of Cuba, New Mexico. They have parking for truckers and a big gravel lot perfect for rvers. It was quiet and the perfect stop for a quick overnight.

There are two ways to approach Bisti. One is via Farmington and other is the way we approached off of 550. We've driven the road to Chaco Canyon, so we knew our NV could make it, but the road is very rough washboard. What added to the fun, was the huge wind and dust storm that hit just as we left the main highway.

Here are the official directions from the BLM website.
To reach the Bisti Access Parking Area, Drive NM 371 just under 36 miles south of Farmington (from the San Juan River crossing) or just under 45 miles north of Crownpoint, New Mexico (from the intersection of 371 and Navajo Service Route 9), and turn east on Road 7297 (a gravel road).  Drive Road 7297 for approximately 2 miles to a T-intersection and turn left.  Drive just under one mile to the Bisti Access Parking Area, which is just south of a broad wash on the east side of the road.  There is another, smaller parking area ¼ mile further north.  

GPS location of main parking lot: 36.259337, -108.251550

First of two parking lots at Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area
We have camped and hiked many times at nearby Chaco Canyon. We'd heard about Bisti and even read Love Your RV's post about their stay at Bisti. Greg did some preliminary study of the awesome land features at Bisti, but we wished we had gotten GPS coordinates ahead of time. Nonetheless, we had an awesome experience hiking and exploring. Our goal was to see the petrified wood and the many hoodoos. We exceeded our goal!

Our first hoodoo
Although the weather was threatening rain and the wind was pretty strong, we were not to be deterred. I will say that this is probably not a place I would want to go hiking in the full heat of late July or August. We bundled up and headed out.

You get the feeling you are on a different planet at Bisti
The odd landscape has the most interesting shaped hoodoos. They appear to be sculpted

Dino - no monkeys were harmed in the making of this picture
Our goal for the day was to locate the petrified wood that litters the landscape. Greg knew the general location of the petrified wood from google maps. We have been to the Petrified Forest near Holbrook, Arizona and it is very impressive. But, nothing compares to hiking for several hours and "discovering" petrified wood in piles. Best petrified wood, we've ever seen. We didn't make it to the largest log, but we will track it down next time when we come prepared with the coordinates.

We discovered one of the big petrified wood piles

This delicate slice of petrified wood was so beautiful
We only explored a small fraction of the park and yet we saw so much. Come spring or fall, we will definitely go back and do more exploring. Our plan was to boondock there at Bisti. But, huge storm clouds were heading our way full of rain/snow. After our hike and a nice lunch in our camper, we drove the 2-1/2 hours to Pagosa Springs. Here is Greg's post about our stay in Pagosa.

Till next time, Bisti 

Here is a link to a good guide with GPS locations of interesting geology at Bisti:

Please remember that it is illegal to remove anything from this land. We need to leave it all in place so that other's may enjoy this incredible place in the future.

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