The Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a sprawling geologic formation south of Farmington on the Navajo Nation. Formed the remnants of an ancient inland sea, these high-desert landforms are otherworldly in their unusual beauty. Bring your camera — sunrise or sunset, you’ll find the perfect shot.
Kialo Winters (Diné and Zia) is a guide local to the Navajo Nation surrounding the Bisti Badlands. He grew up in the area and has worked as a guide and an educator, specializing in the geologic and cultural heritage of Bisti and the surrounding wildernesses.
This area is a place with many names. The Bisti Badlands Wilderness Area is also known as the De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area — a name based off the Navajo word for “standing crane.” This wilderness space features famous landforms such as the Egg Hatchery and City of Hoodoos. Nearby both is the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pa Wilderness Study Area, which includes picturesque monuments such as the Alien Throne and the King of Wings. Information about and directions to these wilderness areas can be found via the Bureau of Land Management.
Book a guided hike through the stone formations through Navajo Tours USA. These 5-hour routes impart both the history of the landforms and their cultural significance to the Navajo people.
It’s nearly impossible to take a bad photo of these badlands — a great camera is a must in this wild and fantastic space. There are a number of tour guides operating in the Bisti area, and here are a few to take into consideration.
What to see while you’re there:
Farmington is an outdoors person’s ideal spot to launch off from, with OHVing, fishing, kayaking, and hiking nearby. Additionally, it features a wide range of lodging options and lots of great food and drink, too. It’s a great place to stay to start and end your days in the Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.
Only a third of the Navajo Nation’s vast landmass is located within the state boundaries of New Mexico, but there are many destinations to explore within this space. Shiprock, or “Tse ‘Bit’a’I”, is an iconic rock formation outside of the town of Shiprock, NM. The town of Crownpoint has an ever-famous Navajo rug auction, and visitors can also explore the Chaco Culture National Historic Park within the Nation’s lands. Visit for this and so much more.
Chaco Culture National Historic Park
The site of a major settlement of Ancestral Puebloans, this UNESCO World Heritage site features the remains of an ancient city that thrived from 850 to 1250 A.D. Visit here, take in the incredible galaxy-gazing, and pop up a tent right by the remains of Ancestral Puebloan buildings and dwellings.