Established as a wilderness area under the protection of the Bureau of Land Management in 1984, the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area is 45,000 acres of eroded badlands that offer some of the most unusual scenery in the Four Corners. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations, hoodoos, spires, pinnacles and arches.
There are no facilities located at either location of the Bisti or De-Na-Zin areas. Primitive camping is allowed, but people must pack out what they pack in.
Bisti (pronounced bis-tie) is Navajo for "a large area of shale hills" and is the western portion of the wilderness area. It is characterized by the Fruitland Formation and tends to be deeply eroded and has an abundance of stone formations made of interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt.
De-Na-Zin (deh-nah-zin) is Navajo for "cranes" and refers to the eastern portion of the wilderness area. Exposed layers of the Kirtland Shale formation coincides with the K/T boundary layer. It is one of the few pieces of public land in the world where the boundary layer is visibly exposed. De-Na-Zin is less ashy and more sandy than Bisti, making for fewer hoodoos and more massive rolling hills.
The discovery of the "Bisti Beast" in 1998 is now in the New Mexico Natural History Museum. This dinosaur was an adult Tyrannosaurs Bistahieversor sealeyi (new genus) that existed 74 million years ago. Years later a juvenille Tyrannosaurs was also discovered, excavated and transported. More recently in 2015, a Pentaceratops was discovered, excavated, transported, and is now undergoing preparation in the New Mexico Natural History Museum fossil lab. The Bisti badlands are scattered with bones of animals, prints of leaves, and even whole branches and trunks of trees. If you are interested in fossils, you can collect a limited amount of fossils of plants, insects, shell and petrified wood on BLM land. Under Federal Law, you CANNOT collect fossils of animals with bones (vertebrates). You may not sell any fossil that you collect from Federal land.