Adventuring in Kirtland New Mexico

The Four Corners (where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet) area of New Mexico is interesting. There is not much out there in terms of infrastructure but there is a ton to see and do if you are into the outdoors. Our stay in Kirtland, New Mexico was full of outdoor activities and photography projects.

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Adventuring in Kirtland New Mexico2
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

In the winter, it is a little tougher, but Mr. Misadventures and I still went hiking a couple of times and the hubby had plenty of photography fodder. (In the better weather seasons, you can also participate in water activities as well).

There are a lot of Navajo Indian activities and I think in nicer weather we could have visited the Navajo market and maybe done some additional hiking on Indian land.

HOWEVER, we did keep ourselves very busy the week we were in the Kirtland area. Here are the highlights.

Bisti Badlands/De Na Zin Wilderness

Say what? Bisti and De Na Zin are both Navajo words. Bisti means “among the adobe formations” and De Na Zin is” crane” – but to me they both mean AWESOME. About 45 minutes to an hour from Kirtland, I can not tell you how amazing the Bisti Badland area is.

Andi-Bisiti Badlands
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

We hiked for miles and with each turn, we were awestruck by something. Given the time of year, we practically had the place to ourselves. Of the three days we went, we ran into just one other person or group each time, and they were usually heading out (after camping!) while we were heading in.

A couple of things about Bisti. You need maps and GPS coordinates. If you stay within visual range of the parking lot or a set of orange hills to the right of the parking lot, you can still see quite a bit including hoodoos.

NEW MEXICO-Bisti-Hoodoos
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

But the really cool stuff is deeper in, like the Bisti Arch or Dragon’s Head:

NEW MEXICO-Bisti-Arch
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

The Egg Hatchery or Alien Hatchery:

NEW MEXICO-The Hatchery Bisti Badlands
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

You need to keep track of where you are. We printed out several detailed maps and used apps like Gaia to help us find specific spots and to aid in our return.

Also, there are two parts (or entrances) to this park. All the photos and most of the days we spent in the Bisti area, which is off of Highway 371. The other entrance for Bisti/De Na Zin is from Highway 550, but we found it less interesting.

Shiprock

When we did our Southwest road trip in 2013 we stopped in Monument Valley. Let me tell you, those are some impressive rocks! (The hubby has some great photos on his site.) However, it is a bit complicated to visit and take photos as you have to have a guide with you from the Navajo Nation. But in the Kirtland area, there is Shiprock, and if you have a four by four you can just drive right up, and wham you are right in front of this stunning beauty!

NEW MEXICO-Jeep-Shiprock
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

You can see this baby from miles away. And you can take a great picture from the roadway as well. It is off of Highway 64 right after the town of Shiprock. A friend on Facebook said they do an annual marathon here, I think it is a gorgeous setting for a run.

NEW MEXICO-Shiprock-Sunset
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

It’s a little over 1,600 feet and sits high above the desert plain of the Navajo Nation. The rock plays a significant role in Navajo religion, myth, and tradition. It truly feels sacred when you are there.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

I am not going to lie. Chaco Culture is a long haul from Kirtland, two plus hours. But I believe it is worth it. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and while we only visited for an afternoon, we were impressed.

NEW MEXICO-Chaco-Pueblo-Bonita-Color
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

The ancient pre-Columbian pueblos are quite fascinating and we were allowed to get so close to the buildings, even walking through one where I could barely fit in the doorway, let alone Mr. Misadventures!

NEW MEXICO-Chaco-Doors
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

If we had stayed longer or re-visited we would have done some of the short hikes in the area to see more sites. We would like to go back because the park was nominated as one of the best places to see the stars in the country and they have a stargazing program, but it only starts in the spring.

How about you? Were any of my highlights of interest to you? Have you been to the Four Corners area and done these or other activities? Do you think you want to visit in the future? Do tell!

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16 Comments

  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)
    April 7, 2016

    Wow, how cool! We just don’t see things like that out here in New England 🙂

    Reply
  2. Heather Johnson
    April 7, 2016

    I have been to New Mexico only once. This natural place looks awesome! I would love to get out there sometime againa.

    Reply
  3. Carrie
    April 7, 2016

    Looks awesome! I have never been to New Mexico! Hopefully I can make it there one day!

    Reply
  4. Lady Lilith
    April 7, 2016

    Anything with beautiful scenery got my attention. I love the wonderful photographs.

    Reply
  5. Emily
    April 7, 2016

    Beautiful photos! I loved the one of the doorways!

    Reply
  6. valmg @ Mom Knows It All
    April 7, 2016

    I have always wanted to visit New Mexico. I have heard numerous times it is beautiful.

    Reply
  7. Neely (@Neelykins)
    April 7, 2016

    I love New Mexico! These photos are absolutely gorgeous!

    Reply
  8. Maureen
    April 7, 2016

    Wow that place looks amazing. Thanks for all the great information.

    Reply
  9. Crystal
    April 7, 2016

    That is not so far away from us. We would love to be able to explore New Mexico and see all of the sights. Now that the kids are older, they can hike a little further.

    Reply
  10. Anne Slater-Brooks
    April 25, 2016

    Wow this place looks like something on the moon. I have never heard of it although I have been to Monument Valley but it looks fascinating!

    Reply
  11. Monica Montoya
    April 25, 2016

    This place looks amazing! My family and I are planning a trip to the 4 corners in late summer and from the pictures above i can totally say there is very high expectations! Great Post!

    Reply
  12. Mihaela
    April 26, 2016

    Very interesting place! Definitely got my attention!. The beautiful photos helped 🙂

    Reply
  13. Brittany
    April 26, 2016

    My jaw actually dropped at the sunrise (sunset?) photo of shiprock! And I love the alien hatchery! Sounds like it was an awesome weekend!

    Reply
  14. Tom
    April 26, 2016

    This place look right up my street. I love hiking in national parks and seeing great geographical features. The fact there is a pre-columbian settlement there is an added bonus. On the list, when I eventually make it to the USA!

    Reply
  15. Kara Wood
    November 26, 2017

    I am a Kirtland citizen, and of course think that our part of the world is wonderful! I am also a founding member of our little Chamber of Commerce, so really loved it that you loved Kirtland! Thanks for posting such nice things about our area!

    Reply
  16. […] is not easy to access, but so worth it!  We visited this ancient pueblos region while staying in Kirtland, New Mexico.  You can walk through the well-preserved ruins and building, hike around the canyons and enjoy an […]

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