We Explored the badlands by Jeep and never expected this

The Canadian badlands boast much more than just fossils however. It’s a great place to break in a new 4×4 and get a little dirt underneath its’ tires.

Alberta is a driving province. Everything is relatively close, so long as you have a vehicle to get you there. The mountains, the prairies and everything in between are all easily accessible. After a lot of deliberation, my partner Hailey and I finally pulled the trigger on our own vehicle. Our first destination with our new wheels might come as a bit of a surprise.

Alberta’s badlands are located around the usually sleepy town of Drumheller. Drumheller is about ninety minutes from Calgary. The town is known for the famous Tyrell Dinosaur Museum. The badlands around the town are famous for being the dinosaur bone capital of the world.

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The Canadian badlands boast much more than just fossils however. It’s a great place to break in a new 4×4 and get a little dirt underneath its’ tires. It had been about seven years since I last visited the area with my old 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I couldn’t imagine a better place to christen our brand new Jeep Cherokee.

We drove around the town for a while. Turning down just about every dirt road we could find. There were a few roads that elevated quickly out of Drumheller which opened up to beautiful views of the town below.

After making the rounds around town we decided to head to Horseshoe Canyon. It looked like on Google Earth we might be able to drive off road a little bit and park next to the edge of the canyon. We didn’t quite know what to expect but that was part of the adventure!

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Horseshoe canyon use to be a lush habitat for the dinosaurs that once roamed its’ surface. It’s not hard to imagine what it might have looked like to see a dinosaur there as you look into the layers of ancient layers of sediment that make up the canyon.

We found the perfect spot to park our new Jeep to enjoy the setting sun together. I brought my small acoustic guitar to pass the time until the sun set closer to the horizon. Once the sun lowered in the sky, it cast all kinds of incredible shades of colours into Horseshoe Canyon.

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I took full advantage of the fleeting sunlight and snapped photos of our temporary setup at the edge of the canyon. We were parked right on the rim and had the entire view to ourselves. The sun slowly faded into a gentle purple hue until the stars began to fill the sky.

When living in Alberta it’s easy to overlook the less visited towns and regions that make up our beautiful province. The Canadian Rockies steal a lot of the thunder. The badlands reignited a spark in me that enjoys discovering completely new places – especially the adventures where I can explore on four wheels.

Photos and words by Ryan Richardson

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The “Grand Canyon” You’ve Never Heard of…

Fish River Canyon is located in the south of Namibia, near the boarder of South Africa. Measuring 27km wide, 160km long, and 550m deep, it’s Africa’s largest, and arguably most scenic canyon. It’s remote location has kept it safe from being over commercialized, in fact, it makes the Grand Canyon in the USA feel a little like Disney Land.

Fish River Canyon is located in the south of Namibia, near the boarder of South Africa. Measuring 27km wide, 160km long, and 550m deep, it’s Africa’s largest, and arguably most scenic canyon. It’s remote location has kept it safe from being over commercialized, in fact, it makes the Grand Canyon in the USA feel a little like Disney Land.

The Canyon has an official 4-5 day hiking trail that leads down to the ravine. Starting at Hobas campground, hiking 85km to Ai-Ais hot spring resort. The trail has no amenities, meaning you are 100 percent self reliant.

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Google Earth Satellite Image.

Back in January when I was covering the Trans Namibia expedition, Ray Zahab and Stefano Gregoretti traversed the canyon from the east viewpoint, to the Fish River Lodge, on the west ledge of the canyon. It’s only 10km away as a bird flies, but it took them more than 14 hours, crossing over 40km on foot. Negotiating the rough terrain and route finding was the most challenging part. They spent most of the day following zebra tracks, hoping the tracks would lead out of the canyon.

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Fish River Lodge, Namibia, Africa.

The Fish River Lodge sits right on the edge of the canyon, with a spectacular view. It’s the only infrastructure around the entire canyon. There’s a private airstrip where many of it’s guests fly into. After a long trip, and many nights spent in a tent, the lodge is a very welcomed luxury.

It’s without a doubt, one of the most wild places I’ve ever seen. It was special visiting a place as beautiful as this, seeing that it had been spared by tourism and commercialism. There a far too few natural wonders like this on earth, that haven’t been exploited by tourism.