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)


The Lybrook Badlands are the largest of the Nacimiento formation badlands dropping over 700 feet in 3 distinct, multi-colored, intricately eroded stair steps. Extensive vertical relief and towering buttes lend grandeur reminiscent of Bryce Canyon. These rarely visited but highly accessible badlands rival the well known Bisti Wilderness in size and surpass it in the diversity of both hoodoos and vegetation. Ancient Juniper roots claw at naked cliff edges anchoring huge sinuous trunks which flow and curve like the finely drawn sandstone layers from which they grow. Forests of twisting, branching bonsai ponderosa clutch at jagged mesa walls. The endless Lybrook hoodoos feature precariously balanced, brilliant red cap rocks so ingenious looking that it’s difficult to believe they’ve been created by the random interactions of natural forces instead of in a Santa Fe sculpture studio.

LYBROOK DIRECTIONS -- Lybrook Village lies about 35 miles northwest from Cuba or 50 miles south of Bloomfield on US 550. The badlands turnoff off 550 is about .7 miles north of the Lybrook Mercantile Store. Turn left onto the dirt route and travel south about 1.5 miles to a small road branching right. Take it for 50 yards to a junction. You have two choices here depending on which section of the badlands you want to access. Turn left for a half mile route to the parking area. Then head for the cliff edge and find the tricky way down or turn right and continue for 2 miles past another junction to a left turn and much easier entry into the badlands.

MORE INFO: Call Recreation Specialist Rich Simmons at the Farmington Area BLM Office—505-599-8900

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