The Black Place

The Black Place is where Georgia O’Keeffe painted some of her most unique landscapes. It’s right opposite mile marker 111 on highway 550, but unfortunately it’s been taken over by oil drilling and the land is private and separated by barbed wire.

I visited on my way to an overnight in the Bisti Badlands, and managed to find a way to wander around a little bit using some little used dirt roads to get access. This was just a scout really, but it’s an amazing place. The black is from oxidized iron ash, and it’s a combination of the swamps, forest and river sediment that once covered it. Many of the hills are covered in montmorillonite clay, nicknamed ‘popcorn’.

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Dawn and Moonrise over Rio Salado. Sandia Mountains in the distance.
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snow covering part of the black hills
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It’s a very otherwordly and abstract landscape.
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Looking north from the hills above the Black Place
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Looking east
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The San Juan mountains in the distance to the north. Highway 550 bisects the view.
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looking south from the hills above the Black Place
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The canyons from above
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One of the ravens that hang out there passing by
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