Badlands Photo


Formation Name: NACIMIENTO

Rock Type(s): Sandstone alternating with Siltstone and Shale


Time of Deposition (in millions of years ago): 65?, 64? to 58

Depositional Environment: Branching river systems and large flood plains

Common Fossils Found: petrified wood, fish scales, early mammals (e.g., primates, dog-sized early hoofed varieties)


Stair-stepped Ceja Pelon Mesa lies just a few miles west from the Penistaja Badlands which is also in the Nacimiento layer. The mesa top above the badlands sports ample hoodoos and smoothly contoured sandstone curves. The second step down, or middle level, is carved into long thin projecting fingers that form a series of narrow box canyons below. The edges of the fingers are littered with hundreds of huge, brilliantly colored petrified logs. Ceja Pelon hides the largest petrified wood concentration anywhere in New Mexico. Several bowls hold petrified log jams where dozens of 50 feet long broken trunks, still lying in place, are strewn about, some piled across each other at various angles. Five feet diameter stumps rest in upright position near large pieces of trunk sitting on eroded pedestals.

CEJA PELON DIRECTIONS — Turn west onto State Highway 197 just south of Cuba and travel about 9 miles west to a right turn onto a well maintained dirt road and continue west for about 7.5 miles to another right turn onto a smaller dirt branch. A tall, light colored metal tank to the north marks this turn. You are now headed in a northerly direction for a little over 1.5 miles to an even smaller two track turnoff to the left or west. Follow it for as far as you feel comfortable as it gets increasingly rougher. Walk west toward the mesa edge and stay low for the petrified wood or climb to the top for views and hoodoos.

FOR MORE INFO—Contact Donna Dudley, Recreation specialist at the Albuquerque BLM office, 761-8700

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A photographic tour of New Mexico’s incredible San Juan Basin Badlands.