The Great Northern New Mexico Loop

July 15, 2021

Mount Taylor to Angel Peak

West of Grants the mesas rose up, turned deep red and then flattened out and faded as we entered the land of endless sky. NM 371 is a meditation, featureless and eerily beautiful at the same time. We passed the time chatting on the FRS radios about Ann's experience working with Navajo weavers in the area. Lunch time found us at Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, where even the searing heat could not stop us from wandering into the charred and contorted black-and-white dunes for a couple of snapshots.

Marion at Bisti Badlands

Translated from the Navajo word Bistahí, Bisti means “among the adobe formations."

Dennis on a hoodoo

From Wikipedia: "The area that includes the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness was once a riverine delta that lay just to the west of the shore of an ancient sea, the Western Interior Seaway, which covered much of New Mexico 70 million years ago."

an ancient ocean floor

Bisti/De-Na-Zin is one of four protected badlands in the Four Corners area.

canyon floor

That evening we'd explore another one of the four, the Angel Peak Scenic Area just south of Bloomfield, New Mexico.

Marion at Angel Peak

None of us had ever heard of Angel Peak, so we were astonished to find ourselves on a denture-rattling gravel road that runs along the edge of a canyon reminiscent of Coal Mine Canyon, with its rainbow-banded hoodoos.

our campsite

Managed by the BLM, the area offers free primitive camping and some very nice, new ramadas.

oil and gas wells on the canyon floor

They were almost certainly exchanged for the right to pepper the canyon floor with countless oil and gas wells.

Dennis hiking toward Angel Peak

Never mind, the cool and dry desert air was a welcome relief after the heat of the day. We took a short hike at sunset to an overlook of Angel Peak.

Our campsite from a distance.

brilliant sunrise

We returned before dawn the next morning to capture the sunrise.

Angel Peak at dawn
Angel Peak panorama

One of many, many photos we took that morning.


Scroll for a panorama!