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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness, NM

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423 18 4
Guide 18 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Northwest
Rated
4.4
4.4 of 5 by 9
 
1
Statistics
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Network 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,494 feet
Elevation Gain 250 feet
Avg Time Hiking 2-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.83
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
24  2018-02-11 RedRoxx44
40  2018-02-09 RedRoxx44
23  2017-04-25 Steph_and_Blake
12  2016-03-10 Hansenaz
40  2012-05-18 willydn
21  2011-06-19 PaleoRob
35  2011-06-19 Randal_Schulhaus
12  2011-06-19
Kin Bineola
Trishness
Page 1,  2
Author Steph_and_Blake
author avatar Guides 98
Routes 59
Photos 2,511
Trips 175 map ( 749 miles )
Age 70 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Co-Author HAZ_Hikebot
co-author avatarGuides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map (6 Miles)
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr
Sun  5:55am - 6:18pm
Official Route
 
1 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Geology Nearby
Culture Nearby
Like walking on the moon with petrified wood!
by Steph_and_Blake & HAZ_Hikebot

Likely In-Season!
No designated trails or water sources.
3-8 miles is typical

The 45,000-acre Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a remote desolate area of steeply eroded badlands which offers some of the most unusual scenery found in the Four Corners region. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations and fossils. It is an ever-changing environment that offers the visitor a remote wilderness experience. Translated from the Navajo language, Bisti means "a large area of shale hills" and is commonly pronounced (Bis-tie). De-Na-Zin (Deh-nah-zin) takes its name from the Navajo words for "cranes". Petroglyphs of cranes have been found south of the wilderness area.


The two major geological formations found in the wilderness are the Fruitland Formation and the Kirtland Shale. The Fruitland Formation makes up most of what the visitor will see while in the badlands and contains interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt. The weathering of the sandstone forms the many spires and hoodoos (sculpted rock) found throughout the area. The Kirtland Shale contains rock of various colors and dominates the eastern part of the wilderness.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness to protect the area's naturalness, special features, and opportunities for solitude and primitive types of recreation. All Wildernesses must be used and managed in ways that will leave them unimpaired for the use and enjoyment of future generations. Please do your part to preserve the valuable resource of wilderness. Enjoy your stay but please leave no trace of your visit.

Hike
While on a fishing trip on the San Juan near Navajo Dam, NM, we decided to take a hiking excursion. There weren't a lot of nearby options, so we settled on exploring the De-Na-Zin Wilderness area south of Bloomfield, NM. We didn't really know what to expect except for weird rock formations and some petrified wood. The parking lot was easy to find (see below) but beware that the road in can get especially slippery when wet (which we experienced!). The path from the parking lot is easy to follow and, after about a 1/2 mile, you just start wandering around to explore whatever interests you. We saw plenty of interesting, colorful, mind-boggling formations and some petrified wood here and there. We thought the area was a tamed version of White Pocket in AZ. We would have spent far more time wandering around, but a hail storm began. We hustled back to the trailhead whilst receiving nature's version of an aggressive facial scrub. I think next time we're in the area we'll hike in the Bisti Badlands (to the west of De-Na-Zin) just to do something different. Advice : forget about the need for a trail. Just explore!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Spring Break 2016
    I had one day to come up with a plan and sell it to my wife who was on break this week.

    We drove up to Petrified Forest National Park and walked a loop over some of the Flattops. The route was inspired by an old (but typically elegant) post by Belladonna Took. We saw a few petroglyphs and on one of the mesa tops we saw plenty of evidence of habitation (metates and pottery pieces). No ruins though...I guess pit houses don't have stone walls and maybe the archaeologists cleaned up after their excavations. Nice walking out there, great time of year too (cool and uncrowded). We spent the night in Gallup.
    [ photoset ]

    Next day was Chaco Canyon. We'd not been there before and I tried to assimilate as much of the detailed info on HAZ and elsewhere in making the plan. Best I could come up with was start at outlier ruin Kin Bineola then head to "downtown" Chaco. Navigating the roads is every bit as hard as the reports say. We traveled with little confidence and were surprised when we saw the Kin Bineola sign. Unfortunately the sign said "closed". The road was washed out and Chaco Rangers later told us a dam broke two years ago and it's not clear if or when Kin Bineola will reopen.

    We looped north through Nageezi and arrived at Chaco Canyon National Historical Park about 3.5hrs after leaving Gallup....slow start. Nice visitor center and we decided to use our time by walking the Penasco Blanco Trail which passes the famous super nova pictograph and reaches an "unrestored" ruin on a mesa above Chaco Canyon. It also parallels (~200' apart) the Petroglyph Trail which is an offshoot nearer the rock wall; so we walked that trail on the way up and looked at a lot of petroglyphs. Unfortunately the soft rock also has a lot of modern vandalism.
    The ruin was great, no one there!, and nice temperatures. The trail is a little bit sandy. Spent the night in Farmington.
    [ photoset ]
    [ gps route ]

    Next day we headed down to the "Bisti Badlands". Again HAZ info and a conversation with Tibber helped cement this plan. There are no trails but it seems everyone loads the same waypoints so you can see tracks most of the way. We really enjoyed this place. Not so different from Petrified Forest country but a bit more spectacular. Very nice walking on hard flat ground. We saw only 3 other people out there. Headed home in time for dinner with our daughter.
    [ photoset ]
    [ gps route ]
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    De-Na-Zin/Bisti Wilderness
    2-2-16 Catching up on trip logs; this one from Sept 27th. This was part of our 3 day weekend in New Mexico. On the second morning we drove to De-Na-Zin south of where we were. There isn't much written about this part of the badlands but we were intrigued. We found the trailhead okay... which reminds me, I did load the the drive route from just before coming off the road from our camp site up at Bisti (Rd 7295 just before you hit the pavement on 371) to the TH [ gps route ] .

    You walk an old road for a bit before dipping into a canyon drainage. We would later discover a bit of a cairned trail on our way out but we ended up making a loop by veering left in the drainage, up and over some hills, around a corner into the wash area and back to the drainage and up and over and around another corner before heading back and up and over two hills to the road where we started. Did you follow that ;)?

    We found lots of cool things to see along the way and just enjoy the solitude of walking in this ancient place. The highlights were the petrified tree logs :DANCE: , they were ginormous I thot and the limestone rock tubes that had encircled some of those petrified trees where they had fallen. Walking in the drainages was cool too with the beautifully colored layers of mountains you could see near and far.

    We had a break near a juniper. It was starting to get a little warm so we headed back to the TH. On the drive back we were trying to find this area I had some waypoints for that included some neat features but after driving around we never did find it. So we went back to our Bisti camp where it was also quite hot. Be forewarned, the afternoons are warm so you may want to bring a tarp to hang for shade.

    I thot we had hiked more miles but apparently not. You can make this a much longer hike bistihiker.com/de-n ... html

    Here are the videos that also include the pictures:
    1 https://youtu.be/YX ... N4Ko
    2 https://youtu.be/GF ... CRZc
    3 https://youtu.be/1v ... obfM
    4 https://youtu.be/F7 ... uvfs
    5 https://youtu.be/jr ... 4co0
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Our afternoon Lunar Eclipse hike on Sunday, Sept 27th 2015. Earlier in the day we drove down to De Na Zin and hiked around thru there until it got too warm. We came back to camp and sat under the tarp until a little later in the afternoon to take out for our hike to set up for the Lunar Eclipse.

    It was still a little warm but a small breeze kept the sweat at bay for the most part. All 6 of us headed out across the plain of the Bisti Wilderness not sure where we would end up but we veered SE. We found the formation called the Picnic Tables and revisited some places we had been earlier in the day. Our next stop would be the Cracked Eggs section. It was hard to stay out of the pictures because of the long shadows being cast by our bodies. The sun was starting to set and the yellow hue being cast by its rays was quite substantial.

    Next it was over to see the arch that appears bigger than it is in pictures but it's actually quite small. There were several other folks gathered here trying to get the perfect shot; a few even on their bellies. You can actually frame up a little mountain thru the eye of the arch.

    From there I think we ended up veering south looking for a perch to set upon with a nice backdrop for the eclipse. We finally settled on an elevated area with part of the Badlands in our foreground. It was a grand experience to be out in the mystiqueness of the Bisti during this moment :y: . I don't have a very fancy camera of course but I was able to get one pretty good shot and I did film just a bit.

    Lunar Eclipse afternoon Video and Pictures (didn't always use youtube stabilizer - feel free to let me know what you think). Sometimes I think it depends on what size screen you watch the videos or how close you are to the screen as to whether a stabilizer is of more value or not.
    Part 1 https://youtu.be/dN ... 3E4A
    Part 2 https://youtu.be/D6 ... xz0c
    Part 3 to the Arch, cracked eggs https://youtu.be/QH ... -YBQ
    Part 4 Lunar Eclipse https://youtu.be/EE ... Tl30 without the youtube stabilizer
    Part 4 Lunar Eclipse https://youtu.be/OB ... EQwc with the youtube stabilizer
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Got outta Rob's truck and had no idea what I was getting myself (or my daughter) into...the hike was flat and the area desolate...can't remember seeing much fauna save colonies of ants...not even lizards....extreme place to say the least.

    Several miles in, the experience turned into a freak-show...mushrooms, hoodoos, colorful badlands and Randal's photography. (That dude can shoot...where does he buy those terabyte SD cards?)

    Climbed a few hills for perspective and was amazed at the vastness of this area.

    It was hot and near noon at the end of our outing, shade was no where to be found...we all found our personal (and very tiny) shade holes, crawled in and took a well-needed break.

    On the way out we lost Randy/Mike and Rob...Bekah and I ran back and found that PageRob had discovered some petrified bones which he believed was a ancient croc....I had a tough time thinking it wasn't a "crock", but since he's the paleontologist all I could do was wonder in awe at what this area looked like a million-billion years ago and at Rob's expertise and keen eye. (Rob brings great prospective to all his trips...LOVE hiking with that guy)
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Chaco/Bisti Wilderness Experience 2011

    Chaco Culture National Historical Park Trails => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=12079
    Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1962

    4 Days, 3 Nights - bliss!
    313 images later (178 on Rebel XT, 135 on 7D)

    Saturday June 18, 2011
    -on the road from Mike Mattes' Chandler residence @ 7am
    -Phoenix to Payson to Heber to Holbrook to Thoreau to Crown Point to Chaco via south entrance
    -somehow arrive at Gallo Campground first, get sites 48 and 49 in the "tents-only" alcove. Campground less than half full at 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon. Estimate about 80% full come the end of the day.
    -Trish (aka Trishness) and Tracy (aka Paintninaz) arrive and get site 40 since only 2 tents per site are allowed...
    -Larry the Lost (aka squatpuke) arrives with daughter Rebecca (aka ???)
    -time for our first trek, Chaco Canyon Overlook Trail that starts at the Gallo Campground entrance => http://www.explorenm.com/hikes/ChacoOverlook/
    -whip up BBQ chicken drumsticks with corn-on-the-cob and S'mores to feed the masses. Rebecca wins the best comment; "Hey Dad, this is way better than some granola bars for dinner".
    -Rob (aka PageRob) arrives at sundown
    -too many choice beers to be "slumming it" with a Caguama
    -Camp fire discussion eventually (inevitably?) gets around to "MAN CORN" => viewtopic.php?t=5356

    Sunday June 19, 2011
    -Chef Mike starts the day with our traditional Prickly Pear Vodka & Orange Juice before cooking the bacon and eggs over-easy.
    -7 HAZ'ers pile into Rob's Explorer and Mike's Jeep for backcountry ride to our first Chacoan Outlier, Kin Klizhin => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15545
    -carry on through the backcountry to the "sand trap" area => http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=143366 that became a turnaround point for us last year.
    -"sand trap", "smand trap"! No problem for Mike's 4WD Jeep and Rob's 4WD Explorer as we push through to Lake Valley Chapter House and up NM371 to CR7297 (turn off near mile marker 70 on NM371) and the Bisti Wilderness trail head
    -I'm very surprised to see multiple vehicles at the TH. This is my 3rd trek into the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness and the first time I've ever seen another human!
    -equipped with some Bisti tips from Letty and Laurent Martres' handbook "Photographing the Southwest", we start to walk up the South Hunter Wash noting the barbed wire fence on the north side
    -when the barbed wire fence bends 90 degrees to the north, we angle ourselves in a northeast direction towards some fanciful coloured formations and into an area noted as "Stone Wings" on the Bisti Wilderness map
    -we eventually make our way into the North Hunter Wash before finding a promising looking canyon with some shady walls to sit and have a lunch snack
    -we continue our lasso loop back to the 90 degree bend in the barbed wire fence
    -noting the crew is looking a little "spent", the "Cracked Eggs" area recommended by Letty will have to wait for a future adventure
    -we head south along NM371 and the turnoff for Lake Valley Chapter House.
    -a couple of miles south lies the turnoff for Kin Bineola => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15425
    -by far my favorite Chacoan Greathouse Ruin and Chacoan Outlier!
    -exploration of 3 southerly middens yields 6 inch pottery sherds and multiple handles
    -a green collared lizard amuses us as it tries to protect it's midden territory
    -after thorough exploration, on to Crown Point to pick up some ice and supplies
    -back in cell phone coverage, some "Happy Father's Day" texts trickle in
    -take advantage of the coverage to give my Dad a call
    -a little south and east of Crown Point lies Kin Ya'a => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15536
    -this is a lesser appreciated outlier, but still worthy of exploration for it's ample middens and Chacoan roads
    -evening menu featuring BBQ steak, mushrooms, onions, sweet gherkin pickles, French bread, and our camp fire standby dessert, S'mores!
    -wind kicks up even more followed by a rain storm forcing us to retreat to our tents (or vehicles for some) to call it a night.

    Monday June 20, 2011
    -Chef Mike starts the day again with our traditional Prickly Pear Vodka & Orange Juice before cooking up his famous chocolate chip pancakes.
    -Trish and Tracy plan to trek the Penasco Blanco Trail to see the "Supernova" Pictograph => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1672
    -for the remaining HAZ 5, our goal is the last remaining unexplored park trail, Pueblo Alto Loop => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1284
    -through "the crack" and onto the mesa overlooks of Kin Kletso, Pueblo Bonito, and Chetro Ketl
    -next up is the Jackson Staircase and the Chacoan Road that heads toward Escavada Wash => http://www.nps.gov/chcu/historyculture/ ... -roads.htm
    -Pueblo Alto and New Alto ruins explored
    -back at the TH, the first Cag's are consumed (remember that taste is proportional to thirst and we were VERY thirsty)
    -mandatory exploration of "downtown Chaco"
    -Pueblo del Arroyo => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1287
    -Pueblo Bonito => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1281
    -Petroglyph Trail => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1282
    -Chetro Ketl => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1676
    -interesting reverse drive by Rob to collect Larry, Rebecca, and Mike at the Pueblo Bonito parking lot
    -back to the Gallo Campground for some R&R before tackling Wijiji Trail at sunset
    -explore the Gallo Campground vandalized petroglyph panels =>
    -evening Ranger Program with Park Rangers Joe Fleming and G.B. Cornicopia
    -the Gallo Campground is filled, but the Park Rangers indicate that they are not turning anybody away
    -I notice about 5 tents populating the area around the Campground Host Site
    -evening meal featuring Rob's burritos and appetizers by Trish and Tracy

    Tuesday June 21, 2011
    -Solstice Day in Chaco
    -Trish wakes me up ~4am (yikes!)
    -Waiting at the Gallo Campground Host Site for shuttle van pick-up 4:45am (yikes again!)
    -Arrive at Casa Rinconada about 5:15am => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1668
    -We wait for the Laguna Pueblo tribe members to finish morning prayers at the Casa Rinconada before the masses are permitted to trek up to the site
    -I'm stunned by the "cluelessness" of many of the visitors as they feel compelled to walk in front of the solstice alignment window and interupt the image being photographed and videoed by others
    -I'll estimate the solstice observers to be about 3x the previous years' number
    -a little "glitch" waiting for the promised shuttles back to Gallo Campground
    -once back at the camp, Chef Mike has jumbo breakfast sausages and waffles ready for consumption
    -break camp, say our good-byes and we hit the road
    -side trip to El Morro => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1295

    Photos to be posted when I get a chance...
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Chaco/Bisti Wilderness Experience 2011

    Chaco Culture National Historical Park Trails => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=12079
    Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1962

    4 Days, 3 Nights - bliss!
    313 images later (178 on Rebel XT, 135 on 7D)

    Saturday June 18, 2011
    -on the road from Mike Mattes' Chandler residence @ 7am
    -Phoenix to Payson to Heber to Holbrook to Thoreau to Crown Point to Chaco via south entrance
    -somehow arrive at Gallo Campground first, get sites 48 and 49 in the "tents-only" alcove. Campground less than half full at 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon. Estimate about 80% full come the end of the day.
    -Trish (aka Trishness) and Tracy (aka Paintninaz) arrive and get site 40 since only 2 tents per site are allowed...
    -Larry the Lost (aka squatpuke) arrives with daughter Rebecca (aka ???)
    -time for our first trek, Chaco Canyon Overlook Trail that starts at the Gallo Campground entrance => http://www.explorenm.com/hikes/ChacoOverlook/
    -whip up BBQ chicken drumsticks with corn-on-the-cob and S'mores to feed the masses. Rebecca wins the best comment; "Hey Dad, this is way better than some granola bars for dinner".
    -Rob (aka PageRob) arrives at sundown
    -too many choice beers to be "slumming it" with a Caguama
    -Camp fire discussion eventually (inevitably?) gets around to "MAN CORN" => viewtopic.php?t=5356

    Sunday June 19, 2011
    -Chef Mike starts the day with our traditional Prickly Pear Vodka & Orange Juice before cooking the bacon and eggs over-easy.
    -7 HAZ'ers pile into Rob's Explorer and Mike's Jeep for backcountry ride to our first Chacoan Outlier, Kin Klizhin => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15545
    -carry on through the backcountry to the "sand trap" area => http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=143366 that became a turnaround point for us last year.
    -"sand trap", "smand trap"! No problem for Mike's 4WD Jeep and Rob's 4WD Explorer as we push through to Lake Valley Chapter House and up NM371 to CR7297 (turn off near mile marker 70 on NM371) and the Bisti Wilderness trail head
    -I'm very surprised to see multiple vehicles at the TH. This is my 3rd trek into the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness and the first time I've ever seen another human!
    -equipped with some Bisti tips from Letty and Laurent Martres' handbook "Photographing the Southwest", we start to walk up the South Hunter Wash noting the barbed wire fence on the north side
    -when the barbed wire fence bends 90 degrees to the north, we angle ourselves in a northeast direction towards some fanciful coloured formations and into an area noted as "Stone Wings" on the Bisti Wilderness map
    -we eventually make our way into the North Hunter Wash before finding a promising looking canyon with some shady walls to sit and have a lunch snack
    -we continue our lasso loop back to the 90 degree bend in the barbed wire fence
    -noting the crew is looking a little "spent", the "Cracked Eggs" area recommended by Letty will have to wait for a future adventure
    -we head south along NM371 and the turnoff for Lake Valley Chapter House.
    -a couple of miles south lies the turnoff for Kin Bineola => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15425
    -by far my favorite Chacoan Greathouse Ruin and Chacoan Outlier!
    -exploration of 3 southerly middens yields 6 inch pottery sherds and multiple handles
    -a green collared lizard amuses us as it tries to protect it's midden territory
    -after thorough exploration, on to Crown Point to pick up some ice and supplies
    -back in cell phone coverage, some "Happy Father's Day" texts trickle in
    -take advantage of the coverage to give my Dad a call
    -a little south and east of Crown Point lies Kin Ya'a => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15536
    -this is a lesser appreciated outlier, but still worthy of exploration for it's ample middens and Chacoan roads
    -evening menu featuring BBQ steak, mushrooms, onions, sweet gherkin pickles, French bread, and our camp fire standby dessert, S'mores!
    -wind kicks up even more followed by a rain storm forcing us to retreat to our tents (or vehicles for some) to call it a night.

    Monday June 20, 2011
    -Chef Mike starts the day again with our traditional Prickly Pear Vodka & Orange Juice before cooking up his famous chocolate chip pancakes.
    -Trish and Tracy plan to trek the Penasco Blanco Trail to see the "Supernova" Pictograph => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1672
    -for the remaining HAZ 5, our goal is the last remaining unexplored park trail, Pueblo Alto Loop => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1284
    -through "the crack" and onto the mesa overlooks of Kin Kletso, Pueblo Bonito, and Chetro Ketl
    -next up is the Jackson Staircase and the Chacoan Road that heads toward Escavada Wash => http://www.nps.gov/chcu/historyculture/ ... -roads.htm
    -Pueblo Alto and New Alto ruins explored
    -back at the TH, the first Cag's are consumed (remember that taste is proportional to thirst and we were VERY thirsty)
    -mandatory exploration of "downtown Chaco"
    -Pueblo del Arroyo => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1287
    -Pueblo Bonito => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1281
    -Petroglyph Trail => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1282
    -Chetro Ketl => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1676
    -interesting reverse drive by Rob to collect Larry, Rebecca, and Mike at the Pueblo Bonito parking lot
    -back to the Gallo Campground for some R&R before tackling Wijiji Trail at sunset
    -explore the Gallo Campground vandalized petroglyph panels =>
    -evening Ranger Program with Park Rangers Joe Fleming and G.B. Cornicopia
    -the Gallo Campground is filled, but the Park Rangers indicate that they are not turning anybody away
    -I notice about 5 tents populating the area around the Campground Host Site
    -evening meal featuring Rob's burritos and appetizers by Trish and Tracy

    Tuesday June 21, 2011
    -Solstice Day in Chaco
    -Trish wakes me up ~4am (yikes!)
    -Waiting at the Gallo Campground Host Site for shuttle van pick-up 4:45am (yikes again!)
    -Arrive at Casa Rinconada about 5:15am => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1668
    -We wait for the Laguna Pueblo tribe members to finish morning prayers at the Casa Rinconada before the masses are permitted to trek up to the site
    -I'm stunned by the "cluelessness" of many of the visitors as they feel compelled to walk in front of the solstice alignment window and interupt the image being photographed and videoed by others
    -I'll estimate the solstice observers to be about 3x the previous years' number
    -a little "glitch" waiting for the promised shuttles back to Gallo Campground
    -once back at the camp, Chef Mike has jumbo breakfast sausages and waffles ready for consumption
    -break camp, say our good-byes and we hit the road
    -side trip to El Morro => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1295

    Photos to be posted when I get a chance...
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Chaco Canyon and Bisti Wilderness Experience 2010


    4 months in the making
    4 days
    3 nights
    18 hiking trails
    30 Caguama Cerveza
    345 photos
    1135.2 miles
    Chaco Culture National Historical Park Gallo Campground as base camp
    Priceless!


    Having endured 4 months of "watchful waiting" (bad pun) with left eye surgery completed on 4/28 and right eye surgery completed on 5/19, I've had June 18th circled on the calendar since February. That was the date for medical clearance to get back into REAL HIKING again! For motivation I posted a 4 day weekend in Chaco Canyon incorporating the Summer Solstice plus a side trip into Bisti Wilderness on the HAZ Forum Board. There was plenty of interest, but few takers. Here's what they missed...



    Day 1 - Friday June 18th - Our planned 7am departure from Chez Schulhauser's in Ahwatukee went without a hitch as Mike Mattes and my Ford F-150 trundled along AZ87 towards Payson. A coffee and gas stop in Heber and we were soon headed towards Holbrook and the I-40.

    With the radio on seek to find some driving tunes; we had a wide selection of Country and Western, Country and Western, or Country and Western. We're introduced to "I'm Still a Guy" by Brad Paisley;

    "When you see a deer, you see Bambi
    And I see antlers on the wall...
    ...But I don't highlight my hair, I still have a pair
    Yeah honey, I'm still a guy
    Oh my eyebrows ain't plucked, there's a gun in my truck
    Oh thank God, I'm still a guy"

    Needless to say this became our theme song for CHACO EXPERIENCE 2010! We pulled into Gallup NM at 11:30am to grab a couple of lunch time subs and continued along the I-40 towards the Continental Divide. At Thoreau, we turn onto NM371 towards Crownpoint. Having made great time, we consult our Chaco Culture Outlier Map (see viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5111&p=55955#p56070 ) and notice Kin Ya'a marked just east of Crownpoint.

    Hike #1 - Kin Ya'a Chaco Culture Outlier Ruin (1.05 miles, 1 hr) - Navajo for "Tall House", we turn at the Ikard-Newson Propane site and pass through the south gate. There's a maze-like network of crisscrossing double-tracks heading to the east. As we crest the ridge we make out the distinctive spire of the 4-story kiva... (see http://www.100megspopup.com/photo4phood ... index.html ) We bounce along in my F-150 towards the site avoiding the intermittent "sand traps". It's before 2pm and we're at our first Chacoan Great House - great way to start the 4-day weekend!

    After having our fill of Kin Ya'a, we head back to NM371 north towards IR-9. I'm pleasantly surprised that IR-9 is paved as we travel 13.4 miles east looking for the abandoned trading post and derelict oil wells marking the intersection of NM57. NM57 is 19.3 miles of bone-rattling washboard that mostly parallels an ancient Chacoan Road towards the southern entry into Chaco Canyon near Fajada Butte. At the Visitor Center we have our first encounter with "Ranger Unhelpful" (aptly dubbed by PageRob). He doubts that there are any camp sites available in the Gallo Campground with this being the Summer Solstice with Zuni dancers and all, but wants to collect our $8 entry fee and $30 camp fees anyways. I pull out my annual NPS pass to get our $8 entry fee waived, but "Ranger Unhelpful" charges us anyways. He's a little annoyed when Mike points this out and I ask for a refund...

    As we slowly wind our way through Gallo Campground we get a little concerned as it begins to look like every camp site is occupied. Mike spots an open one, then another, and another. Of the 49 sites in Gallo, only 6 are open at about 3pm on a Friday afternoon. We settle on Site#28 and declare it "HAZ CAMP CHACO 2010". I'm able to text a message from this location to PageRob letting him know our camp site.

    Mike and I quickly assemble our tents, pop open an adult beverage and grab a seat in our camp chairs while waving to our new neighbours. We discuss a world of possibilities and decide that we'll BBQ dinner once the sun sets and try to get in a hike (or two) before then. Too bad we have such a tight schedule - NOT! (use your best Borat imitation here...).

    Hike #2 - Wijijii Chacoan Great House and Petroglyph Trail (4.45 miles, 2 hr 15 min) - From the western edge of Gallo Campgrounds you pick up the trail weaving towards Chaco Wash. You're walking on a non-descript flat service road towards the ruins. Nothing of note until you arrive at the site. Barriers and the ever present "Keep Out" signs keep you away from close examination of the great house ruin. A father and son pass us heading back from the petroglyph trail. We enquire about the glyphs and they indicate that they didn't see any. Mike and I head that way and start examining what look like prospective panels. Again barriers and the ever present "Keep Out" signs keep you a "head scratching" distance away from anything of interest. Mike walks by the entire site not spotting any hint of rock art. My new found sight begins to discern some pictographs and then some glyphs. The changing light begins to amplify multiple examples of rock art.

    Back at CAMP CHACO I whip up the evening grub - BBQ buffalo burgers, corn-on-the-cob, sweet gherkins, and some choice English beers. With a crackling campfire providing background "music" and stars beginning to appear in the evening sky, plus some good "eats", good beer, good company - what's not to like?

    Hike #3 - Gallo to Visitor Center Stroll (3.49 miles, 2 hrs 15min) - Having received multiple tips that an Evening Ranger Lecture would be held back at the Visitor Center Observatory and in need of an after dinner "leg stretcher", Mike and I head down the road to join the rest of the campers...

    Day 1 total mileage = 8.99 miles



    Day 2 - Saturday June 19th - Gallo Campgrounds is buzzing with pre-dawn activity rushing off to catch the Zuni Solstice Dancers. I'm confused; summer solstice is on Monday 21st. Oh well, don't let facts get in the way of a good show... Mike is on breakfast duty grilling sausages and eggs with our traditional morning "eye-opener" - prickly pear vodka and orange juice. We soon pack the F-150 with some hiking supplies for our trek to Bisti and a couple of outliers. Our stop at the Ranger Station is a complete 180 from our Friday experience. Rangers are tripping over each other trying to help us. One heads off to the office to make copies of a new, updated map of the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness while another talks about his plan to visit the same wilderness on Sunday. Yet another Ranger joins the conversation and answers my questions about the "lost" Fajada Butte Sun Dagger http://www.angelfire.com/indie/anna_jon ... agger.html and why it remains off limits. We'll dub these the "3 Most-Helpful Rangers"...

    Hike #4 - Kin Klizhin Chaco Culture Outlier Ruin (1.49 miles, 1 hr 15min) - Navajo for "Black House", we bounce along the double-track skirting the south side of the Chaco mesas (see http://www.nps.gov/chcu/planyourvisit/k ... etrail.htm and http://gamblershouse.wordpress.com/2009 ... n-klizhin/ ). This is another tower kiva ruins very similar to Kin Ya'a. We continue west in my truck and see a nearby ruin that seems to incorporate some more recent times construction. A Navajo corral perhaps? The landscape becomes a series of sand dunes about 3 miles west of Kin Klizhin. The road begins to look impassable, especially as we can see evidence of makeshift "come-alongs" used by previous stuck vehicles. We decide to turnaround since my F-150 is only 2WD without offroad extrawide tires. Head south on NM57 to IR9 only to see a tragic rollover with EMS personnel scrambling to do what they can. NM371 takes us north towards Lake Valley Chapter House where we exit onto CR7059...

    Hike #5 - Kin Bineola Chaco Culture Outlier Ruin (1.35 miles, 1 hr 30min) - Navajo for "Whirlwind House", only one word to say => WOW! This was the high-light of the trip... See http://www.100megspopup.com/photo4phood ... index.html and http://www.nps.gov/chcu/planyourvisit/u ... 202005.pdf

    Hike #6 - Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (5.83 miles, 3 hr 15min) - Navajo for "Cranes" in reference to the petroglyphs containing these bird images. See http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/wilderness/bisti.html
    We access the wilderness from the CR7500 trail head. The colours are reminiscent of Coal Mine Canyon or the Black Forest in PEFO, the mushroom rocks are reminiscent of the Paria, but the petrified wood was totally unexpected. The trek was hot, sweaty, and dusty, but the Caguama (http://www.caguamabeer.com/ ) filling the cooler took care of that!

    Hike #7 - Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (0.32 miles, 30min) - Access from the west off NM371. See http://www.takemytrip.com/064corners/06_09a.htm

    With my gas gauge now indicating half a tank and not having passed a gas station all day, we decide that continuing 40 miles north to Farmington was our safest bet.

    Hike #8 - Angel Peak Wilderness (0.28 miles, 20min) - Off NM550 about 15 miles south of Bloomfield on CR7175. See http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recrea ... _Peak.html

    Back at CAMP CHACO waiting for PageRob to arrive, we meet some of our new camp neighbours. Rob arrives in the waning light. It's now time for BBQ New York Strips, corn-on-the-cob, sweet gherkins, and some choice English beers (or Caguama if you're slumming it). PageRob adds to choice beers with selections from Oak Creek and Grand Canyon Breweries. From our camp chairs we have a stellar light show. We pick out all the constellations we know and conclude that Orion's Belt must be below the horizon. After midnight, the moon sets below the horizon allowing the Milky Way to be exposed. With my new found sight, I've never seen anything like it...

    Day 2 total mileage = 9.27 miles



    Day 3 - Sunday June 20th - Once again Gallo Campgrounds is buzzing with pre-dawn activity, this time not to catch the Zuni Solstice Dancers (they packed up and left on Saturday), but to catch the sunrise Solstice light captured by the 7th niche in Casa Rinconada (see http://www.exploratorium.edu/chaco/HTML/rinconada.html ). We're up before 5am and decide the morning light at Pueblo Bonito will have our attention on this day...

    Hike #9 - Pueblo Bonito (1.73 miles, 1 hr 15 min) - What can you say, the Chaco Grand House of Grand Houses all to ourselves. See http://www.dennisrhollowayarchitect.com ... onito.html

    Rob and I are back at CAMP CHACO where Mike has prepared his specialty for breakfast - chocolate chip pancakes, grilled ham, and our traditional eye-opener - prickly pear vodka and orange juice...

    Hike #10 - South Mesa Loop (5.60 miles, 3 hr 30 min) - From the Casa Rinconada trail head, we climb up South Mesa making a clockwise loop towards Tsin Kletzin (Navajo for "Charcoal Place"). See http://4cornershikesnavajo.blogspot.com ... anyon.html The trail has a "feel" to it like Grand Gulch/Cedar Mesa. At the Great House we have commanding 360 degree views. Our cell phones work and with it being Father's Day, make the call home to Dad. We make a side trek to view Weritos Rincon, remnants of a Chacoan dam...

    We're back at the Casa Rinconada trail head at noon. A refreshing blast from the F-150's A/C and a minor debate about afternoon plans. Pueblo Alto Loop was on the list, but our stomachs are talking to us and there's Buffalo Burgers in the ice chest back at CAMP CHACO. Back at camp we BBQ those burgers and drain a couple of turtles (aka Caguamas).

    Hike #11 - Pueblo Pintado Chaco Culture Outlier Ruin (1 mile, 1 hr 30 min) - A squalid and depressing Chapter House (quite the contrast from Lake Valley and others) with an interesting Great House Ruin. To me the high light is midden after midden containing multiple examples of large pottery sherds, Rob seemed to win his argument with the turtle (or was one of the Buffalo Burgers slightly sushi style?) and was able to give us a lesson in Chacoan pottery styles.

    We have plenty of daylight remaining when we return to CAMP CHACO. The winds are a little too much as well, so we grab our camp chairs and set up in the wind shadow and shade near the Gallo Alcove Ruins http://4cornershikesnavajo.blogspot.com ... ve%20Ruins

    As the sun sets, the winds die and with dual pyros Mike and Rob getting the camp fire going, I prepare some steak fajitas with corn-on-the-cob. Rob whips up an appetizer bowl of chilli and fritos. Plenty of unique beers to share. Life is good...

    Day 3 total mileage = 8.33 miles



    Day 4 - Monday June 21st - Once again Gallo Campgrounds is buzzing with pre-dawn activity and we're on the road about 10th in line waiting for the park gate to open at 5:30am sharp. Like a giant train, a procession of vehicles wind their way to the Casa Rinconada trail head to catch the sunrise Solstice light captured by the 7th niche.

    Hike #12 - Casa Rinconada (0.5 miles, 1 hr) - It's a New Age event at the giant kiva waiting for the sunrise. http://www.exploratorium.edu/media/inde ... m=00000622
    Certainly an "interesting" cross-section of life standing along the edges of the giant kiva waiting for sun to rise. Striking up some conversations I find out that just about everyone is a teacher or archeologist. There's even a large group of teachers that arrived in a "Follow The Sun" Tour Bus. Seems they are all part of an NSF funded "teacher enrichment" program headed by some archeologists. Talk to some of teachers in this program and their plans to interweave some Chaco Canyon elements into their high school programs. The Head Ranger from Chaco (neglected to write his name down, but he's been there for many years) gives a lecture to the crowd about the alignment. He certainly creates an element of doubt in the crowd when he mentions that although the niches are restored in their original positions, the light entrance window is pure speculation as it is 100% reconstruction from the 1920's (and nobody had the original architectural drawings!). Much to our relief we aren't sucked into any New Age Vortex and we are able to make our way back to the trail head and climb into the F-150 back to CAMP CHACO.

    Mike looks after breakfast - oatmeal with maple syrup, home made muffins, grilled ham, and our ritual eye-opener. We break camp packing up our gear into our respective vehicles - today is getaway day. Over to the visitor center and book store for another encounter with Ranger Unhelpful. Seems that all 3 of us settle on the same book; "The Architecture of Chaco Canyon" by Stephen H. Lekson. We decide on a Tourist Speed Loop of Chaco Canyon so Rob can get some "Cag Shots".

    Hike #13 - Una Vida (0.25 miles, 10 min)

    Hike #14 - Hungo Pavi (0.25 miles, 10 min)

    Hike #15 - Chetro Ketl (0.10 miles, 5 min)

    Hike #16 - Pueblo Bonito (0.10 miles, 5 min)

    Hike #17 - Kin Kletso (0.10 miles, 5 min)

    Hike #18 - Pueblo del Arroyo (0.10 miles, 5 min)

    We wave good bye to Rob as Mike and I head towards the South Road and NM57 towards Phoenix. I've got a 6am flight to catch on Tuesday to MSP... :wrt:

    Day 4 total mileage = 1.40 miles



    Four Day Total Mileage = 27.99 miles
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Entered Bisti off of 371, 3-mile drive on a gravel road in to the Bisti parking lot. Road in pretty good condition, no problems at all for my Civic. Didn't have a lot of time to spend there, but as I went into the wilderness there wasn't any trail and there wasn't a whole lot of interesting sites in the immediate vicinity around the parking lot. It did kind of remind me of Coal Mine Canyon in AZ. If going in, keep in mind there is NO trail and there are few landmarks, so be careful that you don't get lost!

    Went back to the highway, and drove 7 mi. south to the De-Na-Zin entrance. This was a dirt road, though in fairly good shape. I drove around for a few miles but didn't see a lot that was interesting...looked a lot like the dusty scrub bush that I see a lot of on the Navajo Nation around Dilkon, AZ, so didn't bother to get out.
    Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    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:

    http://www.newmexico.org/place/loc/destinations/page/DB-place/place/617.html

    http://www.hanksville.org/voyage/misc/bisti.html

    http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1962

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    De-Na-Zin Trailhead Access
    The De-Na-Zin Trailhead is at N 36˚ 18.729'; W 108˚ 00.161', on the north side of County Road 7500. CR 7500 runs from State Route 371 in the west, to State Route 550 in the east. It is important to note that County Road 7500 can become impassable in bad weather.

    It is hard to see the parking area from County Road 7500. It sits on the north side of the road, a couple of feet higher and surrounded by scrub growth. There are two smallish, dark wooden signs that say "De-Na-Zin Wilderness," in burned letters. The larger sign is set parallel to the road instead of facing it, and the smaller sign is on the opposite (south) side of CR 7500 from the parking lot. You can barely see the brief break in the long fence line that allows access to the parking lot. So, look sharp.

    From the west, the turn onto CR 7500 from Rte. 371 is clearly marked by a brown sign for the "De-Na-Zin Wilderness," 7-8 miles south of the Bisti turnoff and almost 40 miles north of Crown Point. Turn onto CR 7500 at the sign, and proceed 13.2 miles. After 12.2 miles going east on CR 7500, you will cross a cattle gate in a sandy area. The parking lot is one mile from the cattle gate, on the left. When I drove this route in April 2015, the BLM had put up several signs providing the mileage to the parking lot, in this direction.

    From the east, the turn from Route 550 onto CR 7500 is between mile markers 127 and 128, clearly marked by a sign for "De-Na-Zin Wilderness." After the turn, another sign says "De-Na-Zin Wilderness; 12 Miles." Not exactly. From the turn, it is 11.1 miles to the parking lot. Bear right at the first fork - the signs there can be confusing. There really is no landmark to tell you that you are nearing the parking area except that you get a glimpse of the gray clay to the right side of the road, about 1/2 mile before the parking lot.

    Bisti Badlands Access
    From Farmington 64/371 :: 39.0 mi :: about 43 mins
    1.Head west on NM-371 S36.1 mi
    2.Turn left onto Rd 72971.9 mi
    3.Turn left onto Rd 72900.9 mi
    4.Turn right115 ft
    5.Keep right46 ftdestination will be on the right
    page created by joebartels on May 08 2017 6:01 pm
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