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Rough terrain Badlands NP SD

Going West

My wife and I were planning an RV trip to the Denver area to visit our daughter this spring. We decided to plan an extended vacation and visit some places we had visited almost 50-years ago. Our first major destination was the Badlands National Park. On our first trip, we camped in one of the park’s campgrounds in a backpacking tent amongst the “giant” RVs. This time, we stayed in our RV near the park, rented a car to explore the badlands, and visited Wall Drugs (again).

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The badlands range from stark and barren to grass covered prairie to beautiful colors and formations depending on the lighting. Our first day in the park was very windy. I was standing near the edge of  a deep ravine photographing a scene, when a strong gust of wind hit my back and raised me onto my toes. I immediately grabbed the two nearest legs of my tripod and pushed down as I tried not to fall into the deep ravine. My wife caught the image on her phone and told me I needed to stand further back! I took her advice the rest of the day.

Ravine in the Badlands NP SD
Ravine in the Badlands NP SD

On our way into the park, a ranger told me where we could find some big horn sheep near the road. I thought I would miss them as I found several locations to photograph before the area mentioned. Fortunately, they were still in the area and near the road. All but one of the sheep was unconcerned with folks parked along the road. The one who was bit a shy kept moving on the outer edges of the flock.

Big Horn Sheep Badlands NP SD
Big Horn Sheep Badlands NP SD

The badlands are composed of several different layers of sediment and rock created over millions of years. Different compositions create different layers of color. What we see today is the result of years erosion that reveals the layers through buttes and spires above ground and ravines, channels, and canyons below ground.

The color of the Badlands NP SD
The color of the Badlands NP SD
Rough terrain Badlands NP SD
Rough terrain Badlands NP SD

As the lighting changes, you can see more or less color and texture on the formations. I had good lighting the first day, but just gray skies on the second day with rather boring subjects.

Colorful peaks Badlands NP SD
Colorful peaks Badlands NP SD

There are so many locations to photograph, one could stay for weeks. I met a few other photographers and we exchanged ideas of where to photograph next in the park.

Colorado

The next step was Colorado where our daughter lives. Our daughter is rock climber and took us to some places near her home for me to photograph. Our first stop was Eldorado Canyon that was near our campground. It was packed with climbers the day we visited. I figure I am too old to climb a rock face or even a step set of stairs, and settled for photographing some of the rock faces.

Eldorado Canyon Colorado
Eldorado Canyon Colorado

We had lunch in a small mountain town famous for their Frozen Dead Guy Day! The town is Nederland and the bakery has fantastic food.

The next day, we visited Roxborough State Park that has beautiful red rock formations. There were rattlesnake warnings, so I stayed on the road rather than wandering off. I saw two individuals with insect nets and high leggings that I took for protection from snake bites.

Red Rocks II Roxborough State Park CO
Red Rocks II Roxborough State Park CO
Red Rocks Roxborough State Park CO
Red Rocks Roxborough State Park CO

This trip was my first time photographing landscapes outside of Indiana in about 7 years. I am not sure when we will have another trip outside the state, but I planned to do plenty of photography in Indiana in the coming months. With the ever increasing price of fuel, I will search out new places that are close to home.

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