see annotated map at bottom of page
Our first day in @badlandsnps. @whitney_reed and I entered the park on hwy 240 from the town of Wall just north of the badlands pinnacles entrance. The sun was shining with vigor but the wind brought the temperatures to a low close to zero. Snow (the kind that crunches and squeaks beneath your feet) blew across the prairie like clouds of dust. The first road on our right, called Sage Creek Rim Road, exited the main park to the West then turned South towards the exceptionally small township of Scenic, South Dakota.
About half a mile in, Whitney pointed to a small herd of Buffalo sheltered on the windless side of a small hill. I pulled the expedition over to test out the Sigma 150-600 I had rented for the trip. I set up the lens on a monopod and went to town. Quickly realize how steady your hands must be to get a sharp image at 600mm on a monopod in the wind.
With my eye to the camera and my focus nowhere else, I was surprised when I noticed an eighteen-wheel logging truck hauling through the hills kicking up a big cloud of red dust. Focused in at 600mm on these buffalo, I completely missed the opportunity to get in position for a worthy shot.
As far as intriguing landscapes go, the Badlands hold surprises around every turn. We passed buffalo on prairies and saw wind chase the sun across the land with clouds of snow. Then the prairie ends and before you, due to millions of years of deposition and erosion, an otherworldly landscape lays before you.
The sun was beaming but the wind was still stinging. Here Whitney follows my footpath up a large mound to get a better view of the landscape ahead.
The contrast of prairie to eroded landscape is milder in winter compared to its appearance in summer months. When in season, the two types of grass covering the prairie (ankle and waist hight) accent the jagged spires and raised buttes littering the Land that is Bad to travel across in color and aura.
Watching the day's light transcend over these hills and spires combined with the hard contrast of dusty snow made for an incredible trip through the Badlands of South Dakota.