Valley of Dreams, New Mexico, has become one of the better-known hikes in the New Mexico badlands thanks to Alien Throne. Not too far away down the same dirt roads is a similar but lesser visited area known as Valley of Dreams East.
Valley of Dreams East may not have one well-known feature like King of Wings and Valley of Dreams, but it is still a fun area to explore and see the various rock formations created by wind and water over time.
In this guide to Valley of Dreams East, New Mexico, I’m sharing how to get to Valley of Dreams East, how to visit nearby Valley of Dreams and King of Wings, and tips for visiting Valley of Dreams East.
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What is Valley of Dreams East?
Valley of Dreams East is a lesser-known area near Valley of Dreams, New Mexico. Because it does not have any well-known landmarks within it, fewer people visit this area. While we had people around us on the other two badlands hikes we’ve done, we had this whole area to ourselves the entire time.
Valley of Dreams East is an area of hoodoos carved by wind and rain. It is located along the edge of the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area and directly east of the Valley of Dreams (which is how it got its name).
Some of the hoodoos have stone wings made by the rocks sitting atop them. The rock wings vary in size from large wings to small wings, but none are as large as the King of Wings.
The northwestern New Mexico badlands are known for the unique landscapes and hoodoos scattered throughout, and Valley of Dreams East was our first badlands hike to explore the otherworldly features.
How to Get to Valley of Dreams East (Directions + GPS Coordinates)
Valley of Dreams East is located at 36.147190, -107.958500. This is where we parked to get out and explore the area. If you look on Google Earth, you can see the hoodoos of Valley of Dreams East on the south side of the wash.
You will need a 4-wheel drive high clearance vehicle to get here. Do not attempt if the roads are wet as they may be impassible and your chances of getting stuck increase. The first part is mostly maintained unpaved roads, but the last road has some deep, soft sand and deep ruts to manage.
Google Maps did not do well getting us here the first time. There was a turn off of County Road 7650 that did not exist where Google Maps told us to turn next to a windmill where we spotted some wild horses. If you continue past it, Google Maps reroutes to a better track.
The second time, we had better luck putting in the Valley of Dreams Trailhead. This kept us on the more maintained dirt roads that existed versus telling us to turn where there was no road. Keep an eye out for the wild horses; they are beautiful but block the road sometimes.
Farmington, New Mexico, is the closest city to Valley of Dreams East. From Farmington, take NM-371 south out of town. Turn left onto County Road 7650, an unpaved road and the main road through this part of the badlands. After 7.8 miles, turn right onto County Road 7870.
Take this 8.3 miles before taking a sharp left turn on an unmarked dirt road. If you use Google Maps and put in the Valley of Dreams Trailhead, it will get you to the right general area.
Once you take this turn, about a mile down the road you will see several dirt roads to the left. These lead to a dirt parking lot where you can look out over Valley of Dreams. The next step depends on whether you turned off to get into this parking area or stayed on the road from 7870.
If you stayed along the road you turned onto from 7870 without turning off to go to this parking area, just continue northeast on this road until you have to turn right to get to the coordinates shared above for Valley of Dreams East.
If you pulled off the road into the Valley of Dreams Trailhead parking area, continue on that side road until it connects you back to the road you turned onto from County Road 7870 and make a left turn. That road takes you to Valley of Dreams East.
There is a section of deep, soft sand just after Valley of Dreams. If you do not think your vehicle will make it through it, look on Google Earth and you’ll see there is an alternate way around it.
There is no specific road or parking area here. We followed the tire tracks along the wash until we reached the coordinates for Valley of Dreams East. Because we were the only ones there, we parked near the rocks and then got out to explore.
Tips for the Valley of Dreams East Hike
While Valley of Dreams has Alien Throne, Three Wise Men, and many other named formations along the Valley of Dreams Loop, Valley of Dreams East is just unofficial trails through a variety of rock formations. There are no marked trails, so you can wander wherever you please.
The one named formation we knew of in the area was the Three Kings. This was to the east of where we parked and was one of our favorite areas to explore and photograph. One of the kings was missing the rock on top of it when we visited. Please don’t move the rocks from these delicate geologic features so others can enjoy them.
We spent some time exploring near where we parked and then wandered further east through more of the formations. We did not have a plan or anything in particular we wanted to see, so we just enjoyed feeling like we were on another planet and the stillness of the area.
You can spend as much or as little time here as you like. You can easily walk around the area and be done in 30 minutes or less or can spend a few hours hiking further into the area.
Valley of Dreams East is harder to get lost in since you can easily stay within line of sight of your vehicle while in the main areas. However, if you decide to wander further away, make sure you have a GPS app with downloaded maps to get back to your vehicle.
Keep an eye out for petrified wood. We saw some tree trunks and larger pieces of wood that were still intact, but there were also petrified wood chips scattered about on the ground.
We did not fly our drone in Valley of Dreams East. This area is very close to the edge of the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness where nothing motorized is allowed. The rest of the area is BLM land or Navajo land.
Drones are not allowed over Navajo land without a permit. Because we were unsure of the boundaries where the boundaries were for public land versus the Navajo Nation and the wilderness area, we opted not to fly here.
Because you are so close to a wilderness area, this is a great spot for astrophotography and viewing the Milky Way with your naked eye. We were not able to stay overnight at this spot but did find people camping near the parking area for King of Wings who said it was incredible at night.
While I would have loved to visit during Golden Hour, we had a lot more to see on our Southwest road trip and needed to continue our road trip. I think having a colorful sky as a backdrop would have made it an even more magical destination.
What to Know Before Visiting Valley of Dreams East, New Mexico
Bring plenty of water for your hike to Valley of Dreams East. This New Mexico trail is completely exposed the entire time without any shade, but for the most part, you can stay fairly close to your vehicle. Because of this, you don’t need as much water as Valley of Dreams or King of Wings.
Avoid overheating in the summer by completing this hike in the early morning or late afternoon near sunset. The best time to visit is in the spring or fall when the weather is more pleasant for a hike with no shade.
While the hike is short and does not require snacks, bring snacks to fuel your outdoor adventures. If you decide to do some of the other hikes, you can easily spend the whole day in remote areas on unpaved roads without bathrooms, gas stations, or restaurants. Bring enough food to last you until you get back to town.
Use sun protection since there is no shade in this area. Sunscreen is important for any exposed skin as the sun is harsh in the badlands of New Mexico.
For shoes, even regular tennis shoes are fine for this hike. We both were in hiking shoes and had no issues and did not find that we needed shoes with grip for the hike.
Check your gas tank before you leave Farmington. Once you leave the city, you won’t find gas until you get back, and it’s better to be safe than sorry while you travel through a remote area.
Always make sure to pack out everything you bring with you. There are no trashcans or bathrooms out in the middle of nowhere, so bring in what you need and take it back out of the wilderness with you.
Other Hikes Near Valley of Dreams East
Valley of Dreams is just a few minutes away and a much more popular area to explore (although still very much off the beaten path). Alien Throne, Three Wise Men, and other named formations here make it the busiest hike in the area.
King of Wings is another popular spot to explore. You can hike from Valley of Dreams to King of Wings or you can drive around to the other side and hike in through another part of the badlands.
The Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area and the Bisti Badlands/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Study Area have additional hikes through the desert area you can explore if you have more time. We just drove through the Bisti area at sunset one night (thanks to the wrong GPS coordinates for Valley of Dreams East from another site), and it was beautiful to watch the sun paint the landscape in pastels.
The Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Chaco Canyon is also relatively close to this part of New Mexico and can easily be added to your badlands itinerary. Shiprock and another National Park run site, the Aztec National Monument, are also nearby while staying in Farmington.
Where to Stay Near Valley of Dreams East
Farmington is the best location to stay to explore this part of northwestern New Mexico. We typically stay at the Home2 Suites by Hilton in Farmington when we are in the area.
You can also take a day trip up from Albuquerque. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa there and loved it. With lots of activities and great restaurants on-site, it’s a great spot for a weekend getaway.
If you need a place to eat after adventuring all day, check out the Three Rivers Brewery and Eatery (ask for Sarah if she’s still there). They had delicious fries, wings, and burgers.
Is Valley of Dreams East Worth It?
I’m a little partial to Valley of Dreams East probably because it was our first hike in the New Mexico badlands. Because of Alien Throne, I would prioritize Valley of Dreams if you can only do one of the hikes, but Valley of Dreams East was fun to explore and have to ourselves.
Since Valley of Dreams East is only a few minutes beyond Valley of Dreams and neither takes all that long to explore, it’s an easy addition if you are already in the area.
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