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Category Archives: Landscape Photography

We spent several days driving and hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in late spring. There are some fantastic views of the interior of the park from the Boicourt Overlook.

We stopped at Peaceful Valley Ranch to look around. This is also an access point for many hiking trails. Unfortunately access to the trails requires crossing the Little Missouri River. This year the water was a little high and we noticed only one car in the parking lot. As we were watching this lone female was returning from her hike.

A Panorama of the bend in the Little Missouri River.

 

There was a variety of wildlife in addition to the wild horses. This young Pronghorn was in a valley off of East River Road. We saw several males in another section of the park.

This is one of the better parks to observe to observe Prairie Dogs. The little ones were out in force.

We typically don’t see many Buffalo. The first one was on the trail to the Old East Entrance Station. The second one had an itch and we watched it for about 15 minutes as it rubbed against the hillside.

Lots of interesting rock formations around the park.

 

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Early in the morning we drove out to the Cathedral Spires Trail on the Needles Highway. It is good to get to the parking lot early because space is limited.The trail is short but steep as it goes up a gully. The Cathedral Spires are spectacular. I wish that there had been some climbers in the area. It would have been fun to watch them climb.  It was a beautiful morning. When we reached the trails end we met another person from Wisconsin. Turns out he lives about 50 miles from us. It’s a small world.

 

Every year that we visit Custer State Park we try to hike to the top of Black Elk Peak at least once. Our hikes normally start at Sylvan Lake. The lake can be spectacular early in the morning. We opted for an early start because we were scheduled to get some bad weather later in the day.

The Trails to Black Elk Peak were in rough shape. The Black Hills had received a lot of rain this spring and just the week before had seen over 21 inches of snow in some spots. Everything seemed to be a bit behind in terms of the trees leafing out. There was a lot of mud on the trail and a lot of trails were badly eroded. The conditions are the worst I’ve seen in the last 30 years.

The sun was out at the start of the hike although we could see clouds in the northwest.

As we neared the spur trail to the summit it started to rain and we heard a loud clap of thunder. We immediately turned around but after backtracking for a short distance we determined that the electrical storm had missed us so we headed back toward the summit.

On the way back down we took the trail toward the Cathedral Spires. We could see that it was raining hard off in the distance.

We stopped for a bite to eat at the Cathedral Spires overlook and it was sunny out but by the time we made it back to Sylvan Lake it looked like rain. Shortly after leaving the parking lot it started raining hard.

When we arrived at Custer State Park we decided to drive the Needles Highway. It was a good thing we did because we found out that it was going to be closed for a few days due to road constructions. It was a beautiful day for a ride. It was still early enough in the season so there were plenty of places to park at the various pull offs.

 

We drove from Sioux Falls to the Badlands. Our intention was to do some hiking in the Badlands but just as we pulled into the park it started raining. Fortunately the rain moved off into the distance providing a nice background for photography. Unfortunately it is very difficult to hike in the Badlands when the ground is wet. It is like walking on wet cement. The earth accumulates on ones shoes and is very difficult to get off. The park rangers refer to it as gumbo. As a result we stayed on hard surfaces during our afternoon visit. I noticed a number of folks were not aware of the problem and the result was a lot of people trying to get the gumbo off of their shoes.

 

After a late afternoon visit to Pipestone National Monument we drove out to Touch the Sky Prairie. On our first visit to Touch the Sky we were fortunate that the prairie had been burned off a couple of weeks before our visit. This created an opportunity for some unique photography. It also happened that there was heavy fog in the morning that made for even better conditions.

 

Unfortunately the prairie had not been burned off on this trip. In addition the water levels in the stream that flows through the prairie were much higher.

As we were getting out of the car this dog came running down the road. He followed us as we hiked out into the prairie. While we were out in the prairie a couple of young men cam along. They thought she was our dog. They started playing with her and she followed them back to the car. As they started to drive off the dog parked herself in front of the car and wouldn’t let them leave. One of the young men got out and chased her away but by the time he made it back to the car the dog was once again in front of the car. This went on for about ten minutes. We were laughing our heads off.

 

 

We have driven past Palisades State Park many times on our way out to the Black Hills but have never stopped. Since we stayed in Pipestone for the night we had all day to get to Wall, South Dakota so we decided to drive over to Palisades in the morning. It was a beautiful day when we arrived. Unfortunately the park office wasn’t open. We wanted to purchase an annual sticker but didn’t have the correct change. We had to drive back to the highway and get change at a gas station. We filled out the form for an annual pass because we would be visiting several other parks.

We drove into the park and parked on the west side of the historic bridge. The first thing we noticed were the mosquitoes. This was our first encounter with them this summer and we were not prepared. We walked back across the historic bridge and took a photo of the palisades downstream and upstream.

We then took the Split Rock Creek Trail downstream taking some photos of the palisades and the historic bridge.

We then headed back upstream to the scenic overlook where we had a good view of the palisades downstream.

From the overlook we took the South Wall Trail along the river. Not a lot to see on this trail and there were a lot of mosquitoes.

We returned to the historic bridge and took the King and Queen Trail along the river. It was short but there were a large number of Virginia Waterleaf flowers blooming along the trail. The trail was short but it did provide a nice view of the King and Queen rock formation and the down river palisades.

We then walked back to the car and drove to the Balanced Rock Trail which gave some nice views of Balanced Rock, the King and Queen rock formation as well as the down river palisades.

 

 

Spring at Crex Meadows.

 

A fall hike around Hoffman Hills revealed some nice fall colors.

 

 

Typically in the fall we drive through the Blue Hills located east of Rice Lake Wisconsin. This year we were disappointed to find the colors not as good as some years and many of the leaves already off of the trees. Still it was a nice fall day for a drive.