Badlands National Park Spring Escape

Badlands National Park Spring Escape

June 4 – 9, 2017

With trip leaders – Sandy Zelasko & Irene Hinke-Sacilotto

SOUTH DAKOTA – Photography Tour

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Praire dog eating yellow flowers
“Eat more flowers”


 During this South Dakota photo tour, we will explore Badlands National Park and locations in the vicinity. On most days, we will be in the field at dawn to take advantage of the early morning light. Likewise, we will end each day’s activities at sunset. When the sun is low in the sky, the light accentuates the relief and texture of the land. Colors are warm and the contrast soft, so details are not hidden by the dark shadows present at noon-time. At dusk and dawn, animals are more active and easily located. We will reserve mid-days for rest, reflection, image transfer, and travel between locations. There will be a variety of photo opportunities, including both scenery and wildlife.

Badlands Formations with banded colors
Badlands Formations


Once the site of an ancient sea, the South Dakota Badlands have been transformed over thousands of years into the land you see today. Layers of sediment and ash were eroded away leaving behind multi-colored rocks and boulders balanced on pedestals of stone. Eroded canyons and isolated buttes stand as testament to the power of the wind and rain. At first glance, the land seems sterile, yet close examination reveals a variety of creatures. Agile bighorn scale steep canyon walls. Pronghorn and buffalo graze on the succulent prairie grasses while hawks circle overhead. A loop road travels through the northern portion of the park providing easy access to unusual geologic formations and favorite wildlife haunts.

An active prairie dog town lies along Sage Creek Rim Road. The colony’s occupants are enjoyable to watch and photograph as they groom, nibble on grasses, and romp playfully with their siblings. Now and then a shrill alarm call ripples across the colony warning of a potential intruder — perhaps a badger or coyote in search of a meal.

South of the Sage Creek area in the second unit of the park is Sheep Mountain Table. At the base of the plateau are formations with rocks balanced on limestone pedestals. A rough dirt road climbs to this high, flat plateau which is isolated from the surrounding terrain by deeply cut canyons. On top, the views are spectacular. Dirt roads extend like fingers to a variety of vantage points on the rim of the table. (access is dependent on road conditions at the time)

Wild turkey feeding in the Badlands
Wild Turkey
Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Ram

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