This tour is purely geology and paleontology - no archaeology exists in this region. Badlands are by definition landscapes that are unsuitable for human habitation. But don't let that deter you - much older creatures once lived here and their fossilized remains are frequently seen, along with otherworldly formations carved by water and wind. This hike is our most strenuous - it is a minimum of 4 miles round trip. The longest Bisti hike we've ever led was at least 8 miles, and each participant must have a backpack and carry all their water and food. Badlands are dangerously hot and unsafe to visit in the summer, so this tour is not available May 1 through September 30. Already visited? There are many variations and no trails - we can find something you haven't seen!
One of the most important resources in the Four Corners states are their huge expanses of public land, mostly managed by the Bureau of Land Management or BLM. People know that this landscape contains tens of thousands of archaeological sites, but there are also hundreds of natural sandstone arches to be discovered. Many of the arches are located close to archaeological sites and rock art panels. On this tour, we'll visit some of our favorite arches and hoodoos (rocks shaped by the wind to look like people, animals and fanciful shapes) as well as some of the archaeology of the area. The views can't be beat! This is an extremely flexible tour that can involve a lot or a little hiking, depending on your interests and abilities. There are so many arches in this area, that we can do at least 10 completely different arches tours, so come back again!
The most requested of our tours is a visit to Chaco Canyon, which is extremely difficult to access due to bad road conditions and, at certain times of year, rain and mud that makes the road impassible. Once in Chaco, we'll visit several of the Great Houses - which ones depends on your abilities and interests, but Pueblo Bonito is always included, and talk about the people who built these complex cities. Chaco is only one branch of a wide-spread cultural group who built villages throughout the southwestern states and were the ancestors of people who ultimately developed into the 20 modern day Pueblo tribes. Salmon and Aztec are just two of several hundred Chacoan outlier villages, which are part of the network that enabled people to trade and interact across the hundreds of miles of southwestern desert between 1200 and 800 years ago.
You may have driven through the Navajo Nation, but before the Din'e (a word in their own language that means "the People") were forced onto the reservation their nomadic lifestyle brought them down from the Canadian plains, through Wyoming and Colorado. By the 1400s they were hunting, gathering, and experimenting with agriculture in northwest New Mexico. During the 1600s they began building defensive structures to protect their families and livestock from warfare with the Spanish explorers and other displaced tribes. We'll visit several of these defensive "Pueblito" structures as well as spectacular rock art from the same era. In the "Dinetah" region, it is possible to see many of the places that are identified in Navajo mythology. This tour can involve a lot or a little hiking, depending on your needs, interests and abilities.
Copyright May 1, 2020 San Juan County Museum Association at Salmon Ruins Museum. All rights reserved.