With Lynn and Tobyn on an extended July 4th weekend in New Mexico. We did get a slight respite from the 110 degree valley weather with Hi's about 90 degrees and Lo's about 60 degrees. Although Chaco Canyon was the primary objective, we also had Shiprock and the little known Bisti Badlands on our hiking list. I've been intrigued with these Badlands by some of the photos that appear in Laurent Martres book "Photographing the Southwest - Volume 2". Martres description;
"I have to admit that I love the wonderful, whimsical Bisti Badlands. It's an extraordinary location, very remote and not particularly well documented, so the place sees very few visitors and coveys a great feeling of solitude. I have been there three times, in three different directions, and have found new exciting image opportunities every time."
That was enough of a description to hook me! From our base camp at the Holiday Inn in Farmington NM, we headed out late in the day, about 5:00 pm. From the intersection of Hwy 64 and Hwy 371, drive 36 miles south on Hwy 371. At mile 36, you will encounter a historical marker on the west side of the road indicating "Bisti Wilderness"
and County Road 7290 on the east side. Take CR7290 about 2 miles to enter the Badlands. The road will dead end at an abandoned gravel pit and a salt flat parking area beside the fenced wilderness boundary.
We were very conscious of the threatening Monsoon skies as lightning was visible over the Chuska Mountains. Any serious downpour could render CR7290 impassible and we didn't want to be trapped in the wilderness overnight! I can confirm the feeling of solitude as the only other visitors we encountered that evening were a family of horses. As we were leaving we were treated to a spectacular sunset punctuated with lightning.
See links for more info: