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Thanksgiving in the Bisti Badlands

Thanksgiving Day | Wednesday – Thursday, November 23-24, 2016

Alien Sunset
Sunset in the Valley of Dreams of northern New Mexico.

Typically, we like to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend exploring Cedar Mesa and the surrounding areas, but this year we decided to attend a concert on Wednesday evening and then spend the rest of the long weekend hiking and exploring northwestern New Mexico based out of Farmington. We left home early on Wednesday morning and drove over Red Mountain Pass (with an obligatory stop at Mouse’s in Ouray) on our way to New Mexico. After crossing the state line we made a slight detour to visit a nice arch before finishing the drive to Farmington.

Anasazi Arch, also known as Cox Canyon Arch, is a very nice freestanding arch.

Anasazi Arch

We spent a little time in the area stretching our legs after the drive over the mountains from Grand Junction.

Anasazi Arch Sunburst

On Thanksgiving morning Diane and I woke up early and made our way south to the Bisti Badlands Wilderness to explore the unusual hoodoos and other strange formations found in this area. (Funny story: I had originally planned to go to Chaco Canyon for Thanksgiving when I first started planning this trip, but thankfully I checked the website and found that they were closed on Thanksgiving. It would have sucked to show up to a locked gate!) After hiking a big loop in the Bisti area, we also spent a little time exploring the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area which is not too far away. We ended up hiking over 14 miles today, but much of it was pretty flat and there was very little elevation gain (which isn’t typical of our normal hikes), so it was all very easy and didn’t even wear us out. There’s really not much more to say about the day: we hiked a lot of miles, saw a lot of unusual and interesting formations, took a lot of photos, and watched a beautiful sunset. Who could have asked for a better Thanksgiving? Enjoy the photos below!

Welcome to the Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area.

Bisti Sign

Mini Hoodoo

Little Wing

The Cracked Eggs

Cracked Eggs

Tall Hoodoo

This petrified log on a pedestal was interesting.

Petrified Pedestal

Texture in the shade.


Diane hikes ahead of me to visit the next unusual formation we will find.


This big petrified log was very cool.

Petrified Log

High Hoodoo

Crooked Top

Crooked Hoodoo

Hoodoos everywhere…

Hoodoo Wash

There’s a big eagle’s nest on the formation to the left.

Eagles Nest


Black Drainage

A small wing in Bisti.


Bisti Wing

Bisti Wing

Side Wing

Bisti Peak

Endless badlands…

Endless Badlands

It was nice to finally get to see the ‘King of Wings’ in person.

King of Wings

Side View

Under the Wing

We spent the end of the day exploring an area known as the Valley of Dreams in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area.

Valley of Dreams

The Alien Throne

Alien Throne


Diane enjoyed exploring this area before sunset.

Enjoy the View


Evening Stone

Alien Throne Sunset

Alien Throne Sunset

Nice light on the strange formations below.

Valley of Light

The last of the light before we started hiking back to my Jeep.

End of Light

>> Thanksgiving in the Bisti Badlands Photo Gallery


  1. Cathy Getz
    Cathy Getz November 29, 2016

    Thanks for a wonderful post-Thanksgiving tour!

  2. Doug
    Doug November 29, 2016

    What a great adventure, those sites were incredible, and the photos that you took displayed each one of them perfect.

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