Bizarre Yet Beautiful New Mexico’s s Wilderness

Badlands of New Mexico’s Bisti Wilderness. Erosion is the process that shaped the characteristic features of the modern landscape of this place.


Erosion is the process that shaped the characteristic features of the modern landscape of this place. The high plains around the Wilderness are about 6,500 feet above sea level today. The badlands lie 200 to 400 feet below those surrounding plains. The highest points in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness are always grassy.

From them, you seem to be looking across a grass plain. This is because all the high points are mesas that stand even with each other, and the clay and lignite surface is hidden as a result of lying below the high points. The impression strengthens one’s understanding that everything below the grass has been carved away by wind and water. Anywhere that hard materials sit atop a layer of ash, hoodoos have eroded out of the matrix.

While igneous protrusions might be a more common source of stone pillars and pedestals, in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, pillars and hoodoos exist solely because everything around and below them has been removed by wind and water, over time.

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