Off the Beaten Path—Billings Gap Overlook
Get off the road-get off the paved trail! See something new and interesting!
This hike is just under 3 miles round-trip, and takes you to a great viewpoint of the Billings Gap area and badlands north of Blue Mesa. The hike follows the steep edge of Blue Mesa offering views of the badlands to the north and the broad grassy valleys to the south. The deep blues, purples, and whites which color the badlands seems to shift throughout the day and with the season. The summer monsoons add a touch of green vegetation, and, after a summer storm, water streams across badlands. On the way back swing down to the south side of the mesa for a view into the steep sided amphitheater. You may also encounter remains of prehistoric structures and petrified wood flakes used as prehistoric tools in the dunes on the mesa top.
Please park at the fourth pullout of the Blue Mesa Loop Road. Please also respect the visitors who follow you and leave all petrified wood and artifacts in place. This walk, although not difficult or steep, does require sturdy shoes. The footing can be difficult at any time-most of the mesa is covered with deep sand. Please take normal hiking precautions, and bring food and water, sun protection, and navigation aids. Pack out whatever you packed in.
Along the way you will see:
This trip is not marked in the park. Enjoy!
Did You Know?
Standing on the edge of a vast badlands landscape, a Spanish explorer is rumored to have named the area "El Desierto Pintado" (The Painted Desert) because the hills looked like they were painted with the colors of the sunset.