King of Wings in the New Mexico Badlands
As always, these formations are very inique and fragile, so please do not do anything to damage the formations, like climbing on them.
Leave them alone for others to see and enjoy.
The Ah-shi-sle-pah Badlands are located in the north western section of New Mexico north of Chaco Canyon and east of The Bisti Badlands.
During my last trip to New Mexico the The Ah-shi-sle-pah Badlands was the number one spot on my itinerary. I drove all night to get there but first passed my time at Chaco canyon until later in the afternoon. It was only about an hours drive from Chaco to get to the trail head leading into the rock formations of The Ah-shi-sle-pah.
The road in is rough and can be really muddy during any rains in the area. I do have a 4WD vehicle and it was pretty dry when I was going in and never had any problems. I saw a couple come in with a compact economy car so most everyone can make it to the area. You will just need to take it slow for all the pot holes and wash boarded areas in the road.
The Ah-shi-sle-pah Badlands are much like the Bisti Badlands only a little hint of color in the rocks here. Hoodoos are all over the place and great you at the trail head as you start your decent into the main wash area.
The park rangers actually had a brochure with GPS coordinates to The Ah-shi-sle-pah Badlands. I already had mine programmed into my GPS, but theirs gave better coordinates to specific rock formations. I was particularly wanting to find the yellow group of hoodoos in the areas and as luck would have it, it was on the brochure. I would have never found this formation without them. My coordinates were off from the info I had gathered off the internet so I felt grateful after I had found them. I basically sat in this location until the light was right.
As the afternoon sun was getting warmer we had small isolated storms popping up. I was extremely happy about getting the small rainbow in a few of my shots. Typically I never travel to the desert this late at the beginning of summer. It gets pretty hot and will drain you. But there was another time I traveled this late into the Bisti Badland area and was graced with isolated storms in the area for great atmospheric conditions. I have traveled to Bisti three different times. I only scratched the surface exploring The Ah-shi-sle-pah Badlands. So I know I will be back when it is cooler. Typically I like the fall and early spring time for my desert hikes.
Like my facebook page and I can help you with your own travels to The Ah-shi-sle-pah Badlands. I've helped numerous other people looking for locations in the south west and I am always glad yo help.
The Bisti Badlands is an amazingly scenic and colorful expanse of undulating mounds and unusual eroded rocks covering 4,000 acres, hidden away in the high desert that covers the distant northwest corner of New Mexico. The Badlands are administered by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and are known officially, but less evocatively as the Bisti Wilderness Area. There are no signposts pointing the way to the Badlands from any nearby towns, but the usual approach route is along NM 371 from Farmington, the largest town in the Four Corners region - this heads due south through wide open prairie land at the east edge of the great Navajo Indian Reservation, which extends for 200 miles across into Arizona.
Five miles along the entrance track, the grassy plain is replaced quite abruptly by a multi-colored eroded landscape of small clayish hills, shallow ravines, and strange rock formations. The scene is a vivid mixture of red, grey, orange and brown that stretches for many miles. The track passes a large area suitable for parking, then crosses a dry sandy wash and continues alongside the badlands for ca 3 miles before rejoining NM 371. However, the road was fenced off shortly after the wash when I visited, a barrier which looked quite permanent. The far end of the track is actually the official entrance to the badlands, not that there is much difference in scenery or facilities. Several similar un-signposted tracks cross the sandy hills at the south edge of the formations, around a seasonal drainage known as the De-na-zin Wash. A ten mile drive along one such bumpy track leads to the much larger De-na-zin wilderness - equally colorful and even more remote, although partially covered with vegetation.
My Own Bisti Badlands Travels
Took off and drove all night to the north west corner of New Mexico Thurdsay night after work.
Took 16 hours to get there. Arrived there around 11:30 am. Since I refuse to shoot during the bad part of the day,
I slept in the car and waited there until 5 pm. Then finally sunset was approaching so a hiking I went.
This was my second time there. I had to go back since I didn't get very many good shots my first trip out nearly 3 years ago. Stayed there shooting til the sun went away, then drove all the way back to Dallas. I didn't wake back up til noon today. Pretty beat right now still. Its getting harder for me to do these marathon type trips with very little sleep. All this effort just to shoot at sunset.
Bisti Part II
Well I drove back the following weekend since I could not find the area called the "Egg Factory", and thank God I did.
Turned out great, but with a price.
I know now I can hike 2.5 miles with 50 pounds of gear in the desert with out having a heart attack. I had my pack full with tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, 1.5 gallons of water, some food, 4 different sizes of flash lights (for photographing), glow sticks, GPS, long sleeve fleece, Canon 5D, 3 lenses, flash and tripod.
Storms were all around. Waited out two of them in the parking lot. Saw another one coming so I got to hiking so I could set up the tent. This was 4 pm. I find the egg factory area and set up the tent. Wind was a nightmare. I was being pounded by sand storms. (rain goes around me)I finally get the tent set up and throw all the gear inside. I take the camera and start shooting and exploring other areas. Sunset is coming so I head back to the camp area and start shooting the egg area.
6:30 and another storm is coming up right on me. I am shooing furiously to get as much light as possible. I look over at my tent area and it has been mangled by the wind. The ground is too soft for the stakes and the only thing keeping it from hauling ass across the desert is the weight of the gear inside. I have to stop shooting and fix it before the storm hits. The poles are all bent. I try and straighten them out and get the tent anchored down again placing heavy rocks all around it. It’s starting to rain and the light is gone. I am pissed.
I take cover inside and wait it out.
7:15 and the storm is over. I get out to see what I can do. I look to my west and see a possibility of clouds breaking for the perfect light that 7:30 brings. I pray and ask God to do so. And the clouds break. I shoot non stop as another storm is coming up over the ridge behind me again. I was shooing all this time until 9pm and the light was gone. But I got some great shots with dramatic lighting. Dead tired I hit the sack as the last storm is coming up. I eat some food and fall asleep.
Wake up at 4:30 am and start taking my night time shots. Wait until sunrise at 6 am and start shooting again till 8am. Finally get back to camp and pack everything up. I am dead tired and I eat all the food I have left, slam some water and dump the rest to lighten my load for the hike back to the car. Two hours later I am at the car and drive straight back to Dallas. Made it back to Dallas at 11:30pm
36°16'02 " N, 108°13'26 " W
Other cool New Mexico Locations to visit
Shiprock New Mexico
Very Large Array
White Sands National Monument.
Read my blog on how worthless the park ranger there is.