Matt House Photography

Badlands National Park

Back in August we had a last minute change of vacation plans that left us driving to Illinois from Colorado. Rather than do the standard drive straight through Nebraska, we decided to take a northern route and make a stop in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Here’s a collection of photos from the drive to and through the park.

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Evening thunderstorms over the plains

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Somewhere in southeast Wyoming

I was particularly excited about Badlands National Park being a Dark Sky Site. We were supposed to get to the (free!) Sage Creek Campground around midnight. Then I planned on taking a few night photos before crawling in the tent for a couple hours of sleep. One of the highlights of getting to camp was the chorus of coyotes howling and yipping. It started with one off in the distance and ended with what seemed like dozens howling all around the valley and the campground. Then as quickly as it started it was over and everything was silent again.

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Milky Way over Badlands

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Sunrise over Sage Creek

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Bison near camp

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After making a quick breakfast and camp coffee we made our way through the park. The plan was to drive through and check out whatever we could before catching I-90 on the east end and heading toward Illinois.

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Badlands traffic

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Bighorn Sheep

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Grassy Buttes used for grazing by Bighorn

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We stopped to stretch our legs at a Fossil Exhibit Trail. Badlands used to be part of a seabed that stretched across the middle of North America.

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Leaving Badlands

After a quick stop at the visitor center to grab souvenir maps and other gifts we made our way to I-90 and continued the marathon drive to Illinois. I would like to make a trip back to Badlands sometime next Summer and actually explore a bit. Maybe during a peak meteor shower weekend or some other night sky event. The Black Hills are also nearby and offer a ton more to explore (and climbing!)

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