Roughly 60 square miles of remote badlands offering some of the most unusual scenery in the world. This is a must for every venturesome hiker, explorer and photographer!
Road 7297, off of Highway 371 South of Farmington, NM
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area covers 45,000 acres of badlands just south of Farmington, New Mexico. This high desert wilderness features a vast landscape containing some of the most unique rock formation on this planet. The Bisti (pronounced bis-tie) was once a coastal swamp of an inland sea; and was home to many large trees, reptiles, dinosaurs and primitive mammals. What visitors see today is the preserved record of this pre-historic swamp that is now a true desert wilderness.
Photographers, hikers and explorers from around the world visit the Bisti Badlands to see the hoodoos, desert spires, natural arches and fossils unique to this area. You can reach some truly astonishing landscapes within 2 - 4 miles of the main parking lot. The area is so vast, it best experienced with multiple excursions. The Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau has a series of YouTube videos and a Google Earth Map to help you learn about the area before your visit.
There are no marked trails in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. It is easy to get caught up in the landscapes and lose your sense of direction. Use of GPS, pedometer and compass can be helpful. Take plenty of water, protective clothing and footwear appropriate for the season. Remember that cell phone service is spotty. It is best to travel in the early morning and late afternoon.
The best Bisti access point is off State Highway 371 at Road 7297, about 40 miles south of Farmington, New Mexico. Follow the graveled Road 7297 east for about 2 miles to a T-intersections and turn left. Drive almost one mile to the Bisti Access Parking Area. This parking area is just south of a broad wash on the east side of the road. There is another, smaller parking area 1/4 mile further north. Please note that Road 7297 does not pass through the wilderness as is marked on some maps. Visit the Farmington Museum & Visitor Center for detailed directions and help in planning your Bisti adventure.
The De-Na-Zin Wilderness access is approximately 43 miles south of Farmington on Highway 371. Turn east on Road 7500. Drive approximately 13 miles to the De-Na-Zin parking area. A trail leads from the parking area approximately 3/4 mile to the De-Na-Zin Wash.
The Farmington Museum & Visitor Center has topographical maps, GPS coordinates and local tips for visiting the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. Located at 3041 E. Main Street, in Farmington this is an easy stop to make before your Bisti adventure. For assistance prior to your visit, call 800-448-1240 or email email@example.com. To assist you in planning your Bisti excursion we have created a Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness map on Google Earth Maps.
An early relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, the Bisti Beast (Bistahiaversor sealey) was discovered in 1997 by Paul Sealey (New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science). The fossil was excavated in 1998 from the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness by paleontologist Dr. Thomas Williamson, Ph.D. This was one of the first paleontological excavations performed in a Federally designated wilderness area.
This 30-foot tyrannosaur roamed the Earth around 74 million years ago and to date has only been found in New Mexico. The Bisti Beast is a member of the same family as its more famous cousin, Tyrannosaurus rex and would have looked like a slightly smaller version of T. rex. The Bisti Beast was an extremely rare find and is of exceptionally high scientific value, as it has allowed scientists to gain a better understanding of the Tyrannosaur family of dinosaurs. It is estimated that 40 to 60 percent of the skeleton was preserved. The Bisti Beast is not the only specimen discovered within the Bisti. Researchers have discovered numerous other fossils including the duck-billed dinosaur Parasaurolophus, a Pentaceratops, a large sauropod named Alamosaurus, as well as a numerous turtles, fish, crocodiles, and other species.
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness supports a small number of nesting golden eagles, ferruginous hawks, and prairie falcons. All of these species are extremely susceptible to human disturbance during the nesting season from February 1 to July 1. If the adult birds are approached too closely, even for a short time, they will likely abandon the nest, leaving their eggs or young to die of exposure. Be aware that disturbing nesting eagles is a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668c; 50 CFR 22.3) and could result in civil or criminal penalties.
If you see a perched eagle, hawk or falcon, please do not approach the bird. If you encounter a stick nest, please leave the area and move at least 500 yards away, as quietly and quickly as possible. Your cooperation is vital in protecting the future of these rare birds in the wilderness.
Farmington CVB videos also available in HD on YouTube.