"Oh that the desert were my dwelling-place!"
- Lord Byron, poet
Since visiting several deserts over the past few years - the Sonoran in Arizona, the Mojave in California and Nevada, the badlands in the Dakotas and the Dead Sea region in Israel - I have fallen in love with their stark, expansive beauty.
In my opinion, though, none can approach the combination of parched dryness and surprisingly lush vegetation that is found in little-known Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Located in the least-visited state of the USA, North Dakota, this gem of a landscape allows hikers to share trails with wild horses, bison and rattlesnakes. There are dangers - not the least of which is the intense plains sun - but getting right down into the towering, multicoloured badland dunes, sighting a far-off bison herd, walking right through the middle of a prairie dog colony's antics, and stopping to see a delicate yet brilliantly coloured desert flower are all well worth the watchfulness and slightly heightened anxiety of the journey.