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Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

NJ
3 posts
1 review
Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

I will be traveling from Albuquerque to Durango in September and would like to stop off somewhere along the way. I am trying to decide between the places mentioned in the subject line. Bisti/De-Na-Zin sounds like a fascinating place, but I'm afraid my wife (who is a bit less adventurous than I) might not like it since its off the beaten path, and will result in a much longer trip overall. Going via Aztec is a more direct route, and looks like a "safer" choice.

I would greatly appreciate hearing other member opinions on the matter.

THANKS!

Burt

7 replies to this topic
Albuquerque, New...
Level Contributor
2,169 posts
36 reviews
1. Re: Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

The Bisti Badlands, while geologically facinating, "are" in the boonies, and there have been some reports of cars being broken into when left along side the isolated highway by those hiking off into the strange formations. It is out of the way from ABQ to Durango.

If you are driving from Albuquerque to Durango on US550 (from Bernalillo), you will also be passing by the famous, stone cities in Chaco Canyon about midway. Chaco Canyon is reached from US-550 on a sometimes OK, sometimes iffy, gravel and dirt road. It is approximately 20-25 miles into the national historic park from US-550. The first few miles are paved, then about 20 on clay dirt, and gravel. Washboards are common, but you can average about 35mph.

There is "nothing" in between, but unless it has rained (or snowed in winter), a passenger car can make the drive. Roads inside the park are all paved, with an 8 mile loop. This canyon is a World Heritage Site like Stonehenge. Pueblo Bonito especially is appropriately, "Beautiful."

Aztec National Monument is only a mile from "downtown" Aztec, NM, and certainly worth seeing if only for its restored, underground ceremonial kiva, the largest in the U.S.

If this is your first visit...once you get into Colorado (hopefully after seeing the above) you will forget all about missing the Bisti with visits to Mesa Verde National Park, and the scenic wonders of US-550 north of Durango, and through the old mining towns of Silverton and Ouray! Enjoy your adventure!

Albuquerque, New...
Destination Expert
for Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level Contributor
1,888 posts
34 reviews
2. Re: Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

Just to add a little: In Cuba is nice NM restaurant called El Bruno's. Very nice patio in back. In Aztec, I became a big fan of Main Street Bistro (downtown) for breakfast or lunch. And from there the ruins are just a one-mile dog leg (1/2 mile "backtrack" across the river on the road that takes you to Durango and another 1/2 mile up to the ruins). I was surprised how much I liked the ruins. Small, very easy, nice visitor's center, and, absolutely, the restored kiva is awesome.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
3. Re: Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

Yes, definitely add Aztec Ruins. We have been to Bisti (after asking same questions on this forum long ago, and NM_Photojournalist already gave great advice then) and it's really remote and somewhat eerie.

Albuquerque, New...
Level Contributor
2,169 posts
36 reviews
4. Re: Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

A strong, second recommendation for El Bruno's Restaurant in Cuba, NM. (There are few, and far between restaurants from Bernalillo to Bloomfield/Aztec!) El Brunos is one of Northern New Mexico's best!

Note for Albuquerque area El Bruno's fans...there is a new El Brunos on north 4th Street in Albuquerque. We've only eaten there once, but it was equal to the one in Cuba.

Anchorage, Alaska
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for Anchorage
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13,251 posts
233 reviews
5. Re: Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

I think everyone would be happy with the Aztec Ruins (http://www.nps.gov/azru/index.htm) and it keeps you "close to the road".

I am not an El Bruno fan (way to greasy); but am a big fan of the "Main St. Bistro" mentioned above. In Durango I love Cosmos' happy hour menu ($10 burger & beer, $12 pizza & wine, $14 sushi & saki) - very good food & service.

Enjoy your trip.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level Contributor
2 posts
613 reviews
6. Re: Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

I've been to both. In the summer, I would avoid Bisti Badlands like the plague. You are out in the middle of nowhere (bring a GPS) and it is hotter than hell (although I've never been to hell!)

Now Aztec is just lovely, as is Salmon Ruins nearby. I've just been to Aztec and it gets better and better every visit. Salmon Ruins are on the way to Farmington from Bloomfield and worth the trip, too.

Another little special place is Kokopelli's Cave in Famington. You have to make reservations and be driven there, but it is something you will be talking about for years. You can see Shiprock from the upper dining area. Don't miss this if you have the time!

Enjoy!

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
7. Re: Bisti/De-Na-Zin or Aztec?

This thread started in 2011 . I'm surprises TA never closed it.

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