Scenic USA - New Mexico

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness

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Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah WSA - San Juan Basin, New Mexico

Photos by Cecil Whitt
Wilderness Spirit Photography

   First discovered by dinosaur fossil hunter Charles Hazelius Sternberg, the Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness is located near New Mexico's Chaco Canyon and the city of Farmington. Protecting 26 square miles of badlands, this wilderness study area is composed of banded sandstone, petrified wood and ancient dinosaur bone fossils. Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Hoodoos Striped with layers of mudstone and sandstone, these Cretaceous Period rocks have yielded specimens of fossilized leaves, large petrified logs and stumps, and fossils of crocodile and turtle bones. Over 280 specimen fossils are on display at the New Mexico Museum of History and Science in Albuquerque and the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
   For the photographer, this unique rock garden and Sternberg's hoodoo site make this a worthwhile trip. While the majority of these badlands are made of unimpressive gray rises and valleys, the southern edges of Ah-shi-sle-pah Wash exhibit an eerie landscape of highly eroded rock formations, a variety of small desert critters and what has become known as Hoodoo City.
   This is truly a wilderness experience, requiring about 26 miles of driving on dirt roads. Similar to the Bisti Badlands and the De-na-zin Wilderness Areas, the Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness Study Area presents an opportunity for some incredible photography.

     San Juan Basin Map


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