Bisti badlands

The Bisti Badlands

A Visit to the Land of Mushrooms

Mushroom 1

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and Sigma 14mm f/2.8 lens at ISO 100. RAW Mode.

About a half hour’s drive south ofFarmington, New MexicoonRte. 371lies theBisti Badlands. This is a wilderness area of unique geological formations and a fascinating place for photographers to visit. It is onBLM(Bureau of Land Management) land and thus (fortunately) protected from mining or other forms of commercial development.

It’s a vast piece of land and along with the nearbyDe-Na-Zin Wildernesspresents a daunting prospect for exploration. There are no trails or maps or facilities and one can wander for days though this bizarre moonscape. A GPS unit is strongly suggested and we found it very handy to have one when trying to find our way back (in the growing dark) to where we’d parked earlier in the day. There are almost no distinguishing landmarks and a good deal of the time you’ll be walking through narrow washes with limited visibility. 

Bring a GPS and water! Oh yes, cell phonesdowork in most places in this Wilderness, so bring one along for safety as well.

Mushroom 2

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and Sigma 14mm f/2.8 lens at ISO 100. RAW Mode.

Geology is not my strong suite, but I’ve never seen anythingthisstrange. A clump of crystalline minerals has found itself atop an eroding column, almost like a jewel on a pedestal. The use of a wide-angle lens (a 14mm become effectively 22mm on the D30) was helpful in showing these strange formations within the context of the broader landscape.

Mushroom 3

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and Canon 17~35mm f/2.8l lens at ISO 100. RAW Mode.

What impressed me most about theBisti Badlands, and in particular the one small corner of it that we had time to visit, was the delicacy of the terrain. The formations are very soft and the entire environment appears to be extremely fragile. Hundreds of thousands of years of formation weathering could be destroyed by a thoughtless or careless individual. I love the fact that the area provides for unrestricted access yet I fear that any growth in popularity could spell its demise. Tread gently.