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Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness
Photo Information
Copyright: JC Ramos (jramos) Silver Note Writer [C: 0 W: 0 N: 44] (168)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-03
Categories: Desert, Mountain, Sky
Camera: Canon Rebel XTi
Exposure: f/11, 1/100 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-11-24 19:01
Viewed: 3795
Points: 2
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The 38,305-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.

What exactly is a badland? — The shortest answer: a place where “hoodoos” grow in profusion. These oddly shaped cap rocks sitting atop slim pedestals lend a phantasmagorical feel to the landscapes. They come in every imaginable form and diverse colors. Whether as solitary, Zen-like sentinels or teaming, baroque armies, they produce other worldly scenes reminiscent of a Daliesque dreamscape--or maybe a Dr. Seuss book.

The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is about 30 miles (as the raven flies) south of Farmington, NM. To reach the Bisti access off NM 371, go 36½ miles from the San Juan River crossing, take a left turn on NCM (non-county-maintained) Road 7297 and follow a gravel road for approximately 2 miles to the Bisti parking lot. This turn is about 46 miles north of Crownpoint, NM, just past the crest of the hill after crossing the Don Gleason Bridge over De-Na-Zin Wash. The De-Na-Zin parking lot and access is off County Road 7500, which connects US Highway 550 (at Huerfano Trading Post) with NM 371, 8 miles south of the Bisti access exit. It is important to note that County Road 7500 can become impassible in bad weather.

Hoodoos epitomize the desert’s paradoxical character with twisted humor. Carved from stone and soil by the forces of wind, rain, heat, and frost, they appear strangely organic. It’s the same raw earth sensuality often portrayed by Georgia O’Keefe. There are several ironic overtones here where purely inorganic forces and materials produce such life like forms. The now desolate country side with it’s countless, weirdly organic rock forms, somehow mirrors lush biological communities that thrived millions of years before when the area was networked by rivers and wetlands along ancient seashores.

After a few minutes walk into the wilderness, the road is out of sight and the surreal landscape is all around. The clayish hills are composed of layers of coal, silt, shale and mudstone with varying hardness and colouration, and are mixed with sandstone which has eroded into weird formations similar to those of Goblin Valley or Bryce Canyon in Utah. Many small ravines created by rainwater erosion cross through the hills, and there are also occasional mini caves and fissures several meters deep. Much of the surface is unstable - the layers are often loose, rocks are crumbling and some of the formations are quite delicate. Hikers should take care not to damage the features; there are no established trails, but walking along the ravines is the usual way to explore. Petrified wood is scattered across the surface - sometimes entire tree stumps, with the bark still clearly recognisable. Fossils may also be found; the teeth and bones of a variety of species including dinosaurs are embedded in the earthy layers.

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Hi JC,
Your photo of Bisti Badlands reminds me the Fish River Canyon in SW Africa.
It is so hot there (the heat reflected by the cliffs), that hiking is only allowed in our winter (July/August) and one has to bring a Doctor's certificate, that one is healthy enough to endure the hike. This is to void lengthy and costly rescue operations...
By using such a low speed, you got incredible depth of field, and your photo allows the eyes to stride easily to the horizon...

It is a quite terrifying view, and one shudders to think of being lost in this "badland".

The layers of strata are very interesting, and I can imagine it ideal to go fosseling. Is it allowed to collect fossils in the USA?

An impressive landscape, skilfully presented.
Have a nice evening,
Kind regards

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