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Category Archives: Badlands National Park

It was early in the spring and we were surprised at the number of animals we found in the park.

This was the first photograph I have gotten of Buffalo in the park. They usually hang out in the west end of the park and we normally don’t drive out that direction.


There were a number of herds of Mule Deer in various areas of the park.


Several herds of Bighorn Sheep were seen. The rams were no longer with the herd and it was a little early for the lambs. I had noticed a few sheep behind a hill. As I came over the hill this one was staring right at me.


The Prairie Dogs were around although it was very windy and cold so we didn’t see a lot of them. When we drove through in the morning they were just waking up.Prairie-Dog-Badlands-National-Park-16-3-_4776

We were hoping for a little better sunrise and sunset but it is what it is and one has to make do with what is available.





Nothing could be more boring than a sunny day in the Badlands with no clouds. When we reached the Badlands there had been storms all around us but we didn’t encounter any rain. The clouds provided a spectacular backdrop for shooting the Badlands late in the afternoon. There were wind advisories out and it was difficult to photograph because I could hardly stand up.








After watching the Sandhill Cranes fly out to their feeding grounds we headed for Wall, South Dakota. This was a last minute decision. I figured we were already half way there and it didn’t look like we would have time later in the spring to make a trip to one of my favorite locations so we decided to “swing by” the Badlands on our way back from Nebraska.

We drove up through the Nebraska Sand Hills. This was the first time we had been in the sand hills. It was a nice sunny day although a bit windy. A couple of times when we stopped to take a photo I thought the car door was going to blow off.


I stopped to take a photo of these horses with the dramatic clouds in the background and noticed the fire hydrant out in the field. A bit puzzling since we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.


As we neared the Badlands we encountered another herd of horses. It was becoming obvious that we were going to see some dramatic clouds in the Badlands. As we looked at the weather there were storms popping up all around us.Badlands-National-Park-16-3-_5504

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore taken from a small boat on a beautiful calm day on Lake Superior.


Winter at Bond Falls in the UP of Michigan. One of my favorite winter waterfall locations.

Bond-Falls-15-1-_2254Sunrise at Badlands National Park.

Badlands-National-Park-15-6-_3306Crex Meadows after a summer storm.

Crex-Meadows-15-10-_3706Ice Caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.


There are a fair number of Bighorn Sheep in the Badlands. We were very fortunate to see them when we were driving west and again on our return trip. On the way out we saw them late in the evening running around one of the rock formations. They were silhouetted against the sky but it was too dark to get a shot of them. The next morning we drove out into the same area. They tend to hang out around the east end of the main road at the first pull off. I captured a couple of shots of a lamb running around alongside of the road.


We came back through a couple of weeks later. When we drove out to photograph the sunset we found several rams along the road.


The next morning I decided that there would not be a great sunrise because there were not going to be any clouds. As a result we arrived at the first pull off after sunrise. We were fortunate to find a small herd of ewes and lambs along the road.



We spent the morning driving through the park before having lunch at Cedar Pass. After lunch we exited the park but not before capturing a group of rams near the eastern trailheads.

Begging Burros

With the unsettled weather I wanted to get out to the Badlands early in case there was a great sunrise. Even though we were a little late in getting started things were just starting to get good when we arrived. The Badlands are a place where I have seen some of my most spectacular sunrises. We were not disappointed on this morning.



Just as I was leaving for another location a Bighorn Ram came walking into the picture.


As the sun continued to rise we started driving alone the park road toward the east entrance to the park.




We drove off on the road to the Conata Picnic Area. We were amazed to hear a chorus of frogs. I’ve hiked in the Badlands many times and have never heard or seen a frog. Later we checked and there are six different frogs found in the Badlands. With all of the rain this spring they were having a great time. As we drove along we could see it was dark in the west. It made a nice contrast to the rocks.


As we drove back toward the west entrance to the park we encountered some Bighorn Sheep grazing along the road. There was a ewe and Lamb in the group. These were probably some of the same sheep we had seen the evening before.


More photos from the Badlands can be found on my website.

We took a western vacation this again this year. My wife argues that we retired people don’t take vacations. Ok so we took a western trip. I’ll be writing about our western trip in the blog as I have a chance to process the photos.

Our first stop was in at Badlands National Park. After arriving in Wall, South Dakota we grabbed a bite to eat and then headed out into the park. We were hoping to catch a dramatic sunset and we weren’t disappointed.


We were amazed at how much water was standing around. Much of the west has received record amounts of rain this spring. We lucked out because it was not raining when we were in the park but there were still clouds on the western horizon.


As we drove through the park the colors gradually became more dramatic as sunset approached.


At one point we encountered a couple of Mule Deer grazing along the road.


Just as we were leaving the park we encountered some Bighorn Sheep walking along the rock formations and silhouetted against the western sky. They had three lambs with them. The lambs were chasing each other along the rock formations. Unfortunately it was too dark to get a great photo.


More photos from the Badlands can be found on my website.

After spending the night in Rapid City we drove east to the Badlands National Park. It was a beautiful day so we decided to spend some time in the park hiking after a long day of driving the previous day.


Just after entering the park we encountered a small group of Bighorn Sheep. The herd consisted of the females and the their young.


Driving a little further we drove past the Prairie Dog town and couldn’t resist stopping to watch them for a while.


One fellow was doing some remodeling work on his dwelling.



As we drove along we noticed a couple stopped along the road looking up into the rocks. There were two Bighorn Sheep rams watching the cars go by.


As we continued down the road we started to notice some very interesting cloud formations.



Last spring we had hiked many of the trails in the Badlands. This trip we decided to take a short trail that we had missed on our first trip. It had rained several days earlier but most of the water had dried up creating some interesting patterns on the trail.


One thing I learned is you don’t want to be hiking in the badlands when the trail is wet. The soil, called gumbo, by the locals sticks to your shoes and just keeps building up like cement. The tracks on the bridge show that someone had been out hiking when it was wet.


I was attracted to this colorful plant along the trail. It looked like it had flowers on it not long ago.


I keep thinking of it as a vacation but my wife keeps pointing out that retired people can’t take a vacation so it’s a road trip. The plan was to head out to the Badlands, Custer State Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park starting the latter part of September.Buffalo-14-9-_3035

The trip got off to an inauspicious start. The day before we were to leave my wife came back from town and said that a warning light appeared on the dash – something about a battery. She immediately called the dealer and they set up an appointment for early afternoon.

When she returned home she was driving a different van. Apparently the problem was an alternator, something that never goes wrong with a Toyota. The dealer was having problems finding a replacement. My wife talked them into letting her drive a van home so we could pack all of our gear and then make the transfer at the dealer and head out west without returning home.

The next morning the dealer called and said they would have the new alternator at 10am and would have it ready by noon. We called and canceled our reservation for the first night because there was no way we would make Murdo, S.D .given our late start.

When we arrived to pick up our van I started transferring our gear to our car while my wife paid the bill. When I reached for my tripod something didn’t feel right. Sure enough it was my old tripod. I really needed the new one. So, back home we drove to get the new tripod.

Once back on the road we headed to Wabasha, Wis. to catch the highway south to I-90. As we drove through town I took my normal shortcut. When we reached highway 61 I turned right. At that point my wife asked me where I was going. I said to catch the freeway. Unfortunately I had been so used to heading to Redwing, Minnesota to watch the eagles last winter that I was heading north rather than south.

Back on the road , in the right direction, we were within spitting distance of I-90 only to encounter a 20 mile detour. At that point we reassess our progress and decided to stop at Mitchell, SD. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a hotel we liked so we decided to continue on to Sioux Falls, SD.

Early the next morning we resumed our western road trip. We planned to stop in the Badlands but decided to skip that side trip and continued on to Custer State Park. The goal was to photograph the Custer Buffalo Roundup the next day so we wanted to scout the area.

So for the past month we have been driving around the western U.S. and the upper Midwest chasing the fall leaves. They are just about gone now so I should have time to starting going through the many photos I’ve taken and writing my blog on a daily basis.

In the meantime I’ve started processing some of my most recent photos and interspersing blogs from the western trip with those of the Midwestern leaf peeping trips.