Combined into one 45,000-acre wilderness area in 1996, the prehistoric setting of the Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness is the stage for this 3.9-mile lollipop loop. Begin by following an old jeep road .4 mile north from the trailhead and turning west to follow a wash downhill. As it descends, the wash swells and takes a couple of tight, hairpin turns before this route bears north to begin a .8-mile loop. The loop cruises the De-na-zin Wash toward hoodoo-filled ravines on its northern side, turns south toward the access wash and then east to close. The last 1.5 miles backtracks uphill to the jeep road and the trailhead.
There are endless opportunities for side exploration to fields of petrified wood; strange, round stones; rolling dunes; and weather-worn hoodoos. If you’re prepared with plenty of water, snacks and sun protection, consider spending all day exploring. The landscape takes on new dimensions as shadows shift and new details emerge.
There are few cairns in this remote wilderness, so expect to spend some extra time route-finding throughout this hike. And, keep in mind that the dirt access roads are nearly impassable after heavy rains.
-Mapped by Christina Frain