Your Guide to the Best Hiking Trails Near Farmington, NM

Your Guide to the Best Hiking Trails Near Farmington, NM

21 May, 2024
Your Guide to the Best Hiking Trails Near Farmington, NM

The unique natural landscape around Farmington, New Mexico, draws outdoor enthusiasts. Farmington is the best location for a basecamp while exploring the area's hiking, biking, and rivers. 

Every visitor needs to know critical aspects of the area when partaking in local adventures and hiking the trails and parks around Farmington, NM. The climate in this part of New Mexico varies dramatically. Mornings can be freezing and become very hot during the day with no cloud cover. Many recreation areas do not have access to water sources; if exploring the badlands area, there is little to no shade. If you are concerned about the lack of shade, Farmington and the Animas River are in a more temperate environment and can provide some relief on especially sunny days. 

Other aspects to be aware of when exploring the Four Corners region include wildlife, such as snakes, and thorny or poisonous plants. Many areas in this region are remote and are true wilderness excursions with no trails. The Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah and Bisti areas do NOT have any marked trails, and visitors must be prepared for free exploration. Those enjoying and exploring these areas must carry a map, a compass, and a GPS device that they know how to operate to keep themselves safe.

Like many remote places, cell service is limited in some recreation areas. Some sites also have specific rules about camping and fires that visitors need to know before their trip.

We’ll dive into all of this and more in this blog! If you’re just looking for some quick tips, scroll to the bottom for a handy guide.

Animas River Trail

While staying in Farmington, stroll along the Animas River on the Animas River Trail that runs alongside the water through Farmington. This ideal family activity has a well-maintained trail system consisting of paved, cobbled, and natural sections. Keeping this trail well-maintained allows access for walkers, bikers, strollers, and wheelchairs. Eight miles of trail provide great and beautiful access to explore Farmington and one of its main waterways.

What can you expect on the Animas River Trail?

As mentioned, the trail is family-friendly, with walkable and stroller-appropriate sections and access points. Families and visitors do not need to worry about their map reading and compass navigation skills on this in-town trail. The trail has informative signs, benches, and picnic areas for breaks and meals. Due to its paved and cobble sections, visitors and locals use this trail for walking, jogging, and cycling. 

What is there to do along the Animas River Trail?

Besides enjoying the path and scenery, this area of Farmington offers numerous activities. Those strolling the trail can slow down for wildlife and bird watching. For families, there are playgrounds and splash pads along the trail. It's also a great place to access the river for rafting and kayaking. To learn about the area, visit the Riverside Nature Center and All Veterans Memorial Plaza. 

What are tips for those visiting the Animas River Trail?

This trail provides multiple parking areas, allowing easy access. It's important to note that key access points include Berg Park and Animas Park. These locations offer public restrooms, drinking fountains, and picnic spots for visitors' enjoyment. The Animas River Trail offers fun, wildlife, and adventure for everyone visiting Farmington.

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area

Visitors enter this system north of Chaco along Highway 550. When enjoying wilderness area, escape into the rare landscape of hoodoos, badlands, and colorful formations made from sandstone, shale, and coal layers.

What can you expect in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness?

One critical aspect is the lack of designated trails. The rolling badlands are unique and challenging to navigate, so visitors must be well-versed in navigation. The landscape resembles a labyrinth with a complex series of small washes and ravines.

What highlights should visitors look for in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness?

There are a few notable landmarks in this area. The "Valley of the Dreams" is an alien-like landscape unique to this area and ripe for exploration. There are a couple of rare locations ideal for photography. Visit "Alien Throne," located on tribal land adjacent to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, and then stop by "King of Wings."

What are tips for those visiting the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness?

The best times to visit are spring and fall when temperatures are more moderate. Summer is quite hot, and winter is can get pretty chilly. Visitors need to bring plenty of water, as there are no water sources in the wilderness, along with sun protection, sturdy hiking boots, and navigation tools like a GPS. All visitors must prepare for remote, rugged hiking with no designated trails. Be aware of the weather and any storms forecasted. Roads may become impassable, and the terrain slick after rain or snow. As long as you're prepared for rugged and high desert terrain, the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah experience will be unique and irreplaceable.

Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area

Hike through a vast expanse of terrain formed by the erosion of sandstone and shale over millions of years, creating mounds and hoodoos. Trek through the area's colors, ranging from deep reds to ash grays.

What can you expect in the Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zin Wilderness?

Like the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, this area does not have any marked trails. It is a place of free exploration across 45,000 acres. Visitors can choose from various hikes depending on their length and difficulty. Trekkers can expect to find remote wilderness with few people traveling through this region. It is an excellent location for true solitude in the New Mexico landscape.

What highlights should visitors look for in the Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zin Wilderness?

When exploring this remote wilderness, be prepared to feel transported to a different planet. Many visitors appreciate the "Wings," a collection of wing-tipped formations, and the "Cracked Eggs," which shockingly resemble cracked open eggshells. Another inspiring highlight is the "Hoodoo City," which consists of tall, thin spires of rock that rise dramatically from the ground. While exploring the entire wilderness, it is worth looking for rich fossils, petrified wood, and the remnants of prehistoric creatures. As a visitor, remember that collecting fossils from the area is prohibited.

What are tips for those visiting the Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zin Wilderness?

When entering this wilderness, the most crucial thing to remember is that NO water sources are available, and all water must be packed in. As mentioned, this is a remote part of the world, and visitors must be prepared. The Farmington Museum and Visitors Center has maps and provides visitation tips from locals. Visitors must carry a GPS device and a reliable map, as there are no trails or cell service. Planning your route before embarking and downloading GPS coordinates is necessary for a safe adventure. In this wild part of the world, the weather changes rapidly, and explorers need to be prepared for rapid weather changes. When visiting this area, remember to capture the beauty with photos and leave no trace to preserve the natural environment for future generations.

Make Farmington, NM Your Four Corners Basecamp

After a day or multiple days exploring this unique region, Farmington has excellent watering holes to rest your tired legs and refuel. Whether you are looking for coffee, breweries, or local New Mexico cuisine, there are plenty of options in town. Walk around and explore the local shops to get a feel for the culture and lifestyle.

As a basecamp, Farmington offers various hotel and lodging options to fit every need and budget. When staying in Farmington, you are right on the Animas River Trail, which runs through most of the city. It is approximately 60 miles to the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Trailhead and about 40 miles to the Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Trails.

The land and wilderness around Farmington are singular and awe-inspiring. Exploring this part of New Mexico gives visitors an experience they cannot find anywhere else. The Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, full of rolling badlands, and the unique hoodoos of the Bisti Badlands are incredible to explore.

Before starting your adventure, gather local information from Visit Farmington. If you are new to this area and feel uncomfortable exploring independently, consider working with a guide.

There is nowhere else like the Four Corners and Farmington, NM, and it is worth exploring this area. Remember to be prepared and educate yourself on the areas, terrain, history, and culture of the regions you explore.

Author: Ingrid
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