Bisti Badlands

It is 4:38 am. I am in a hotel outside Oakhurst, California, which is right outside Yosemite National Park. I am awake because I haven’t slept yet. No, it isn’t because visions of Half Dome are dancing in my head. Nope. I just spent the last seven hours or so finishing up the page proofs of my book. I have a feeling that if I close my eyes, my friend B. (he’s shy) will wake me up a minute later to say that it is time to go seek out a sunrise location. (B. is a photographer, but a REAL one, the kind who scouts locations ahead of time and always uses a tripod and won’t even get out his DSLR if there isn’t good light.)

Or it could be if I close my eyes, I will see Oxford commas and dangling prepositions raining down behind my eyelids, like a super boring version of the Matrix.

I’m thinking I should just stay up. For me, the night before Yosemite is like the night before Christmas or Disneyland or Star Wars: The Force Awakens or something, so I’m not sure I could sleep anyway.

Instead, I’ll tell you about the last leg of my Colorado trip, which wasn’t in Colorado at all but in New Mexico. We went to the Bisti Badlands.

So, if you haven’t heard of the Bisti Badlands, you’re not alone. I hadn’t heard of ’em either until we pretty much drove right by them. They’re south of Farmington, New Mexico. What’s weird about the Bisti Badlands is that you have to find the cool parts. There are no trails. There are no signs. You sort of walk and walk and it looks like there’s really nothing interesting and then BAM there’s some interesting stuff.

Our first trek out wasn’t very successful. I mean we saw stuff like this,


and we were like, “Hey, Bisti Badlands, that’s pretty cool. Oh, and you’ve even got some slot canyons,


and that’s a really nice bush,


and, hey, cool rocks.”

but, truth be told, we weren’t all that impressed.

So, then we went back and actually looked at the map and realized that we hadn’t come anywhere near the cool stuff. So, we ventured back out and–lucky, lucky us–the sun was setting, and YOWZA.

We found these pretty rocks with brown stripes,



and together they made a sort of gateway to the sunset


which started to go pink


(do you see Daisy who TOTALLY GOT IN MY SHOT?)






then the color suddenly disappeared and it got dark and we realized it was really far to the car AND we couldn’t really see it any more so we weren’t really sure exactly which way we should be heading, so we gave the lead to our trusty canines, who pulled and pulled on the leashes because they could smell coyotes RIGHT BEHIND US AND HOLY CRAP THEY WERE FREAKED OUT they understood that this was a Timmy-is-stuck-in-the-well moment, and we needed the assistance of their acute sense of smell that usually leads them to really important rocks and blades of grass and poles that were peed on 32 days ago by very important dogs and very significant smells in the kitchen that might mean dropped morsels of deliciousness to SAVE OUR LIVES.

And they did.

P.S. here’s a cool picture of Daisy and I.


8 thoughts on “Bisti Badlands

  1. First looked at this on my phone over a quick lunch at work. Soon after I got home, I knew I had to look at the pink in high res. Great stuff and I’m glad you got it as a surprise.

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