SOUTH DAKOTA – BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Photo Experience: Obtaining some worthwhile images in Badlands is, in my opinion, significantly influenced by timing and light. I was there in the afternoon and, thus, drove the Badlands Loop Road from west to east so that the sun would be illuminating the sights in front of me. (At the start of my Badlands adventure, I did drive a few miles east on Sage Creek Rim Road, which is dirt, but in good shape. The primary opportunity there was a female bighorn sheep and a lamb, who were munching on vegetation right by the side of the road.) The Loop Road is paved. The Yellow Mounds Overlook was a worthwhile stop as were the short Window and Door Trails in the eastern section of the Park. However, the highlight of my time in Badlands was being treated to a spectacular sunset. Since I was at the eastern end of the Park, I chose the roadside on the hill to the north of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. This location allowed me to silhouette the ridges to the west.
Other Info: Badlands National Park is located in western South Dakota. The Pinnacles Entrance is accessed from Exit 110 on I-90. (This exit is approximately 50 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota.) The Northeast Entrance to Badlands is 8 miles or so south of Exit 131 on I-90. As with most federal sites, an entrance fee or appropriate pass is required for admittance. Pit toilets are available at the Fossil Exhibit Trail, Bigfoot Pass Overlook, and the parking lot for the Window and Door Trails. Regular restrooms are available at the Visitor Center. Accommodations are available (seasonally) at Cedar Pass Lodge. The Lodge and a campground are located near the Visitor Center. I would encourage you to take and use sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat if you are outside for any length of time. Also, use water to stay hydrated. (It was 95 degrees F., when I was photographing the sunset about 7:20 PM.)