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Ojito Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images
Orange, tan, and white layered badlands rocks
Library image #4185: Badlands and rock escarpment


The United States Congress designated the Ojito Wilderness (map) in 2005 and it now has a total of 11,823 acres. All of this wilderness is located in New Mexico and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.


Historically, several human cultures have tried to carve a living from Ojito’s resources. Although there are several types of ruins within the area, including those of the Puebloan, Navajo, and Hispanic cultures, few historic records exist concerning their lives here. The rugged terrain, rocky soils, and scarce water supply must have made their daily lives very difficult. The ruins and artifacts left by these residents are the clues that archeologists use to tell the story of their existence here. They should be left undisturbed where you find them so future visitors can also enjoy them, and future archeologists can study them. Archeological remains are protected by the Archeological Resources Protection Act and other laws.

Fossil remains of rare dinosaurs, plants, and trees have been discovered in Ojito. They are found in the Jurassic-age Morrison Formation (about 150 million years old). The erosion process has exposed large segments of petrified trees and the bones of huge dinosaurs, including one of the largest dinosaur skeletons ever discovered – that of a Seismosaurus. A 0.7 mile trail (the Seismosaurus Trail) will lead you to the site where this skeleton was once excavated. Because these fossil remains of plants and animals provide important information about life during this period it is important that, like the archeological remains, they are left undisturbed until they can be collected and studied by professional paleontologists. Collection of these fossils is prohibited by law unless authorized by permit. A second trail, the Hoodoo Trail, crosses some open, cactus-covered ground then runs beneath the east face of Bernalillito Mesa, gaining height gradually and ending at a viewpoint over the wash to the badlands beyond. En route are a number of localized but pretty erosional features, most striking being a beautiful outcrop of teepee-shaped mounds of yellow Dakota sandstone, crossed by thin, delicate pinkish-red layers. One U-shaped passage between two of the cones is reminiscent of the Wave in Arizona. Not far beyond this is a nice group of flat-topped hoodoos. Rocks in the cliffs higher up also have nice colors and forms, and other small pockets of hoodoos (and petrified wood) can be found all around the mesa.

Three rare plant species - grama grass cactus, Knight’s milkvetch, and Townsend’s aster are found in Ojito. New Mexico’s lowest elevation stands of Ponderosa pines are in Ojito, far below where pines usually grow. Elevations in this Wilderness range from 5,600 to 6,200 feet. The area provides nesting habitat for birds of prey, swifts and swallows. Other wildlife species that call Ojito home include various reptiles, mule deer, elk, American antelope, and the mountain lion.

Planning to Visit the Ojito Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Ojito Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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