It's time to get the well-worn soapbox out of the closet and dust it off a bit, as there's plenty to talk about thanks to my travels and travails through northwest Kansas.

My soapbox-lugging was prompted by a recent stopover at Castle Rock, in eastern Gove County.

Castle Rock, you will remember, is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas, sharing that distinction with another outcropping of majestic limestone pillars on the western side of the county. Both, incidentally, are on private land, and only through the good graces of the owners are travelers able to drink in the splendor of what Nature has assembled.

Unfortunately, there are those among us who care little about private property, who care little about those natural masterpieces.

It simply was depressing to drive through the area, past the limestone badlands that lead to Castle Rock itself.

To be sure, the drive -- down little more than a path -- was interesting. There were potholes and wet spots that would make driving difficult, at least for vehicles more suited to highway travel.

At no time was it necessary to use four-wheel-drive to travel the path.

But apparently travelers who came before me thought otherwise.

There were tracks, some of them quite deep, along the pathway. Other vehicles turned off for a closer look at the badlands themselves, leaving deep ruts. Some simply were too close to the rocks themselves. Mere feet, in fact.

To be blunt, it was a sign of a foolish person behind the steering wheel.

Yes, I pulled in and immediately regretted my decision. But all I did was leave soft imprints, too much for me even at that.

It appears Castle Rock, and some of its rougher terrain has become something of a driving sport for idiots with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

But foolishness isn't limited to those with big hulking vehicles.

Near the Castle Rock spire itself, the pathway had been dicey at best.

So some people just decided they'd drive through the grass, opening up a new pathway that is simple to travel.

Who are these people?

It's time to stop the craziness.

This is, for those who already have forgotten, private property.

Having said that, I'm going to suggest the Gove County commissioners take the initiative and send its motor grader down there and fix the path, making regular passes. If necessary, Gove County should spring for gravel, rock or something to make it easier for idiots to drive straight, and still see the sights.

As much as I hate signs, I wouldn't even mind a few cautioning visitors that this is private land and the utmost respect is expected.

Let's face it, Gove County was plenty pleased when its two miracles of nature were put on the 8 Wonders list, and Gove County is a better place because of Castle Rock and Monument Rocks.

Tourists by the thousands stop off each year, and I'm sure they spend plenty of money before and after they head south out of Quinter.

Quinter, incidentally, heralds itself as the gateway to Castle Rock.

Protect Castle Rock. It's worthy of it.