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Category Archives: Landscape Photography

After lunch at Mount Rushmore we decided to drive over to Sylvan Lake and then take the Needles Highway to check on the fall color. We were not disappointed the color was outstanding.

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After driving around the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park we continued on down to Wind Cave National Park. We decided to hike the East Bison Flats Trail. It is not all that difficult and is one of my favorite hiking trails in the Black Hills. In the spring it is covered with wildflowers and we always seem to find some animal bones along the trail. On this trip the bones were still on the Buffalo. A little while later we did find a collection of bones close to the trail.

More photos from Wind Cave National Park can be found on my website.

We found this large anthill along the trail.

The East Bison Flats Trail used to be marked by flimsy brown trail markers. In recent years the Park Service has replaced them with posts. Since the Buffalo love to rub against the posts they are buried deep in the ground. You can see the Buffalo tracks around this one.

There are some great views of the prairie from the trail.

 

 

The day following the Buffalo Roundup we planned on doing some hiking out of Badger Hole. There is a nice hike over the mountains to a horse camp that I made about fifteen years ago and we were going to try it. We had a couple of false starts before getting off on the wrong trail. We finally decided it was way too hot to hike. I thought I had lost one of my camera cases at the roundup the day before so we decided to drive the wildlife loop and stop at the parking lot to see if it fell out of the car. It was also a beautiful fall day so we thought we would get some nice fall photos.

More photos from Custer State Park can be found on my website.

When we reached the Buffalo pens there were quite a few folk taking photos of the Buffalo that had been rounded up the day before. The fall colors by the pens were near peak making for some great photos.

We didn’t see the Begging Burros at their normal place and were wondering where they were. A little while later we found them wandering down the road. It took us about a half an hour to get past them. For some reason they kept wanting to walk down the middle of the road.

Just past the burrows we noticed some outstanding fall color on the hills. I had to shoot fast because the burros were coming up the road and we didn’t want to get stuck behind them again.

A little while later my wife noticed this Coyote come out of the woods and walk through a Prairie Dog town. We quickly pull off the road and started taking photos. For some reason the last few times we have been in the Black Hills we have seen Coyotes. I’ve probably hike in the Black Hills fifteen times and had never seen a Coyote until recently. This one walked up to the road and stopped. It looked both ways then crossed the road. It seemed to have more sense that most people. It stopped on the other side of the road so we could get some more photos. Notice in the second photo there is a Prairie Dog at the very top of the photo watching the Coyote.

We drove up to Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park to start our hike to Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak). When we arrived there was almost no wind and the lake was just like a mirror. Before starting our hike we walked over to the lake to get some stunning photos. More photos from Custer State Park can be found on my website.

 

After photographing early in the morning we headed back to Wall and had an early breakfast at Wall Drug. First place I’ve ever encountered that refused to make sunny side up eggs. While at breakfast we check the map and decided to drive back out to the park and drive the Sage Creek Rim Road. We have been driving through the badlands for years but have never driven the Sage Creek Rim Road¬† other that the first few hundred yards.¬† According to the map we would eventually end up in Hermosa which was our destination.

It was a beautiful early fall day and the color was nearing its peak.

We saw all kinds of wildlife on the drive. We hadn’t gone far before we encountered this Bighorn Sheep ram resting at the side of the road. He wasn’t about to move so we had to drive around him.

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

As small herd of Pronghorn Antelope crossed the road in front of us.

Pronghorn Antelope

Of course there were the ever present Prairie Dogs. It seems like there are more and more of them.

Prairie Dogs

There are Buffalo in the park but they are rarely seen on the Badlands Loop Road. We see them fairly frequently on the Sage Creek Rim Road. At one point we found a large number of them in a pen. Apparently there had been a roundup but the bulls still seemed to be roaming the park.

Buffalo

We had gotten out of the car to take some landscape photos and noticed this Coyote walking along. I went back to get my long lens and, of course, he dissapeared. I went back and got my landscape lens and sure enough he reappeared in full view but he was too far away for a shot.

Coyote

While we were watching the Prairie Dogs we notice a large bird sitting out in the Prairie Dog town. It looked to be the size of an eagle but we knew it wasn’t an eagle. Later we found out it was a Ferruginous Hawk. Apparently Prairie Dogs are one of its favorite meals. They frequently sit by an active hole and wait for the Prairie Dog to emerge. We later encountered several of them flying.

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

After exiting the Sage Creek Rim Road we ended up in Scenic, South Dakota.

We then drove through the Stronghold Unit of the Badlands. This place had been used as a bombing range. When we pulled over to take this photo I also took a photo of the warning sign.

We were hoping for a great sunrise but that didn’t happen. However the blue hour was spectacular.

We had some nice light for early morning photography.

Many of the same animals were around early in the morning.

Bighorn Sheep

Mule Deer

We drove out to the Badlands hoping for a beautiful sunset. That didn’t happen but there was still some nice evening light for photography.

There were plenty of wildlife to be seen as evening approached. We saw many Bighorn Sheep and Mule Deer.

 

Yesterday we drove up to Crex Meadows to check out the bird activity. Normally the Crex Meadows web site provides a summary of bird activity but the staff has been cut from five to two and they don’t always have the time to update the report. We had planned on spending the night but found there were not that many birds around so we just drove through the Meadows before heading back home. Almost none of the fields south of town have been harvested so it is difficult to find the birds in the fields although if you look hard you can find them in open areas.

This Meadowlark kept flying in front of the car and I was finally able to get a shot of it after three or four attempts.

Meadowlark

Grebe

There were a pair of immature Bald Eagles hunting along Phantom Lake road as we drove out of the Meadows.

Bald Eagles

We didn’t see many Sandhill Cranes. They could have been out feeding in the fields but as I mention it was hard to find them.

Sandhill Cranes

American Coots

It doesn’t look like the fall colors are going to be all that great. Many of the leaves seem to be turning brown and dropping this year.

My wife printed, matted and framed six of my fall photos for an exhibit at the Menomonie Public Library. The exhibit will run through the month of October.

Bonanza Falls – U.P. of Michigan

Black River Harbor Reflections – U.P. of Michigan

Leaves Canadian Hill Farm – Menomonie Wisconsin

The Z Bond Falls – U.P. of Michigan

Lake of the Clouds Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – U.P. of Michigan

Leaf Hoffman Hills Recreation Area – Menomonie Wisconsin

 

I’ve driven through the Badlands many times but I’ve never taken any panoramas before so this trip I decided to take a few.