By Eilene Lyon
When you think of wilderness, do you conjure a deep grove of majestic, old-growth trees surrounded by fuzzy pick-up-sticks of fallen mossy trunks? Waterfalls thundering and spongy, leaf-strewn ground cushioning your every step? Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is nothing like that.
This is the Badlands.
Some might call it barren, but that would be like saying an elaborately decorated wedding cake is “stark.” The variety of geologic forms in rainbow hues more than makes up for the lack of greenery.
You won’t find poison ivy, grizzly bears, or deep blue lakes here. Instead, find yourself walking through labyrinths carved by cloudbursts. Climbing crunchy hills coated with natural ceramic formed when underlying coal seams burned and fired the clay layer above.
Around the corner: the petrified stumps of an ancient forest that flourished 50 million years ago when this area was a delta flush with fresh water and abundant life. On a fence demarcating adjacent Navajo land, a beetle skewered on barbed wire by a passing loggerhead shrike.
There is still a bit of water – occasionally. And a little vegetation seared by the late-summer sun. But in October, the heat has departed and the Harvest Moon bathes the mammary mounds and phalic hoodoos alike in a cool, blue light.
Even in the more popular spring and fall months, people are few and far between. A visit to the Bisti will soothe your over-taxed, tech-weary mind and put you in touch with nature at its raw best.