Bisti Badlands, NM
Little visited and largely unknown, the Bisti Badlands/Bisti Wilderness Area is an amazingly scenic and colorful expanse of undulating mounds and unusual eroded rocks covering 4,000 acres, hidden away in the high desert of the San Juan Basin that covers the distant northwest corner of New Mexico, yet this area is just one of many similar regions.There are no signposts pointing the way to Bisti from any nearby towns, but the usual approach route is along NM 371 from Farmington
Shiprock is a remenat of an explosive volcano, 30,000,000 years ago, so not to worry, which after years of erosion left this mystical “rock with wings” jutting out of the desert landscape to be seen for miles and miles plus it has been photographed from outer space. This Rock with Wings, features in the mythology of the Navajo people. Navajo people arrived in the Shiprock area traveling on this ship, hence the name. When seen at sunrise or sunset or during a storm one easily feels the mystical calling of the pinnacle.
Tony Hillerman’s book “Fallen Man” features Shiprock as the center of an investigation. A man?s body was found on the rock. Climbers are forbidden to climb Shiprock. The film “Pontiac Moon” with Ted Danson with Mary Steenburgen, also fit the rock for the story line. Currently, the film “The Lone Ranger” includes a number of shots of Shiprock including Tonto’s walk home toward the Shiprock. Since the early 1900’s a town has grown around the Shiprock pinnacle. The first weekend of May is the annual Shiprock Marathon and the first weekend of October is the Northern Navajo Nation Shiprock Fair.
Aztec Arches, NM
Located within minutes of Aztec and scattered among boulder-strewn canyons, the wind, water and temperature formed arches, bridges, pillars and pedestals are a natural beacon for hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and four-wheel enthusiasts. Some of the formations are as small as a kitchen table, while others could easily accommodate a locomotive.
Monument Valley Tribal Park
Monument Valley is what comes to mind when people think of the American West. This area has been used for several movies, books have been written on the area, and to this day, the monuments are one of the most photographed sites on earth. Millions of years ago, Monument Valley was a flat piece of land, an aird desert landscape that stretched for miles in every direction without the slightest bump. As rain fell, streams formed, and wind whisked along the terrain, eventually, loose dirt fell away from the landscape leaving these massive monuments among a flat horizon. Today, the scenic masterpieces and wide open skies bring millions of visitors to the area to simply drive through and marvel at the beauty. You can drive along Highway 163 from Utah into Arizona to catch a glimpse of the red sandstone buttes, but to immerse yourself in the beauty, you can enter the Monument Valley Tribal Park and travel along the dirt road through the iconic rock formations.
Grand Canyon National Park
As one of the most visited National Parks in the country, the Grand Canyon National Park really speaks for itself. This vast canyon is truly unlike any other geological formation on Earth. Carved out by the Colorado River over 6 million years, the canyon is over a mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 277 miles long. Because of the sheer size of this park, there are multiple ways to enjoy your time there. The Southern Rim of the canyon is the most popular spot, partly because of the ease of access, partly because it is the most developed, but mostly because of the picturesque sights from the observation deck. The West Rim is closer to Las Vegas and is known for the glass walkway that juts over the canyon known as the Skywalk. This is one of the best points to view the canyon floor without descending down. There are several trails to lead you into the bottom of the canyon where you can head in for a day or backpack overnight with proper permits. Companies also offer special helicopter tours to guide you through the canyon, rafting tours on the Colorado River, and even skydiving to give you unparalleled views of the canyon.