Tag Archives: National Park

South Dakota – Black Hills – Day 5

SD – Black Hills / Custer State Park | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7

Day 5 – the day of mist, rain and dense fog before the expected 6″ of snow fall and subsequent 27 degree morning temp.  We wisely decided to move to a camper cabin before the unseasonably cold and snowy weather moved in.  It was a bit damp and breaking down the tent was not on my to do list at this point.  The cabin was a short distance from our tent site; relocating camp was easily accomplished.  We left the tent up in hopes that mist/rain would subside and breeze would dry things out and headed for Wind Cave National Monument.

Hidden beneath the rolling prairie of the southern Black Hills is one of the world’s longest caves.  Swaying prairie grasses, forested hillsides, and an array of wildlife such as bison, elk, and prairie dogs welcome visitors to one of our country’s oldest national parks and one of its few remaining intact prairies. Secreted beneath is one of the world’s longest caves, Wind Cave. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this complex labyrinth of passages contains a unique formation – boxwork.

There are a few different cave tours to choose from, we went on the Natural Entrance tour.  It was a lot of stairs, but they are mostly all down.  The elevator that takes you back to the surface is lower in the shaft than the level you entered the cave on.  Here are some iPhone shots on the monument grounds and inside the cave.  Great tour.

It was still very foggy and misting some when we left Wind Cave.  Once back at the campground it was time to take advantage of the break in the mist/rain.  Packing away a wet tent is never any good.  The rain fly was a bit damp, but that is all; it would dry quickly in the cabin.

The day was still young and there was much of the Custer State Park to explore.  We drove up to Mt. Coolidge Fire Tower in a blanket of fog.  There were breaks at times that offered somewhat of a view.  At 6023 ft. I am sure the view is dandy on a clear day.  From there we explored North Lame Johnny Road (CSP4) as we made our way toward the donkeys down by the Buffalo Corrals.  We were a bit disappointed to find no donkeys around especially since we were toting two large bags of carrots.  Perhaps they were driven away by yesterdays stampede.  We headed South on Red Valley Road (CSP6) into Wind Cave National Park where we spotted some Elk at a great distance.  We would have liked to get a bit closer, but that opportunity never arose.  We made a big loop South in Wind Cave Nation Park and came back around North and headed for Custer.  The light was getting low and our stomachs where empty.  [[Custer State Park Map for reference]]

Here are a few shots from Lame Johnny and Red Valley roads.  Beautiful country and a bit of wildlife as well.  Another great day in the hills.

South Dakota Badlands – Day 1&2 Wildlife

Badlands Series | Day 1 | Day 2 | Scenery | Wildlife

September 6th & 7th 2014.  Wildlife we encountered in Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park not only boast beautiful scenery, but also plentiful opportunities to view wildlife.  We encountered the Western Meadowlark, mule and white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, and numerous prairie dogs.  The Prairie Dogs are quite entertaining to watch…our favorite wildlife in the park.  We didn’t spy any bobcat, coyote, pronghorn or bison.  As previously mention, we heard a lot of coyotes.  Here are a few shots of the wildlife we experienced.

South Dakota Badlands – Day 1 & 2 Scenery

Badlands Series | Day 1 | Day 2 | Scenery | Wildlife

September 6th & 7th 2014.  Scenery we enjoyed while touring Badlands National Park.

Click to enlarge

We could not have asked for more perfect weather for our two stay in the Badlands.  We had bright blue skies with just the right amount of clouds.  The storm clouds were the icing on the cake.  The beauty of this land is in its vast and desolate nature.  This protected land is comprised of just under 250,000 acres of eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires among the expansive prairie the makes up most of Eastern South Dakota.

We were here for two days to capture a few sunsets and a sunrise; we had plenty of time to explore.  We made several trips through the park along the main thoroughfare (240).  If you have time, I highly recommend traveling on Sage Creek Road (590) and Conata Road (509) between Yellow Mounds Overlook and 44.

Here are some shot from a two days traversing the park.


South Dakota – Day 2 Badlands

Badlands Series | Day 1 | Day 2 | Scenery | Wildlife

September 7th 2014.  Sunrise @ Door, Window, Notch Overlook in Badlands National Park.

Our second day started out early.  There isn’t anything quite like making coffee at the picnic table by flashlight at 4 a.m.  It is a titch more involved than hitting a button on a Keurig machine.  In case anyone is wondering…there isn’t a coffee shop anywhere close and open at that hour…not in Interior, SD.  With full mugs we set out and secured our sunrise spot.  The scene was shaping up nicely.  It is always preferable to see some clouds aloft.  It was a pleasant early morning sipping coffee while watching the light of the new intensify.  Here are a few shots of the sunrise unfolding over the rugged landscape of the badlands.

September 7th 2014.  Sunset @ Badlands Wilderness Overlook in Badlands National Park.

We had a full day of touring the park admiring the landscape and wildlife.  The grand views and fresh air were relaxing.  Time flies when you are on vacation.  It was sunset time before we knew it.  Badlands Wilderness Overlook was a great choice for sunset.  It is situated West of the Pinnacles entrance to the park South of Wall, SD along Sage Creek Road.  While shooting the sunset we heard a number of coyotes howling in the distance.  A sunset serenade – a first for both of us.  Here are some shot from our sunset shoot at Badlands Wilderness Overlook.