The Badlands… More Like The Awesomelands

I’ve been wanting to experience the Badlands for a few years now. I’ve seen several photos and heard nothing but good reviews, but that didn’t make the view upon entry into the park any less awe-inspiring. They are absolutely breathtaking. And they’re so much more than that first viewpoint when you enter the park that you usually see photos of.

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a viewpoint closer to the Sage Creek campsite

Sometimes they appear to be carved down into the earth, and other times they tower up like mountains. Some are graced with dusty pink stripes, others are a rich yellow and still others seem almost white.

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the yellow mounds

They are jagged and rocky, smooth and rounded, flat topped and grassy. Some are dotted with animals while others are barren alien lands. Sometimes it’s so quiet that the only noises that you hear are your own footsteps, there are times when the wind is so violent that it’s all you can hear, and at dusk and dawn the silence is punctuated with the songs of the coyotes.

As a photographer this range frustrated and inspired me. I love to tell the story of a place, journey or person to my audience, but here there is no definitive view and what you can get into the viewfinder on your camera is never enough to give the full picture. It’s a land that needs to be experienced. It cannot be contained in a single image.

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along the Castle trail

The national park is filled with opportunities to immerse yourself, if you take them. Driving all the way out to the campsite at Sage Creek takes you through a range of landscapes and hiking the 15+ miles of trails allows you deep into their heart. Mike and I took every one of those opportunities so we could learn, explore and enjoy the Badlands.

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A Morning Jaunt in Palisades State Park

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Right across the border from Minnesota into South Dakota is a charming state park called Palisades. Definitely worth a visit on your way to the western portion of the state.
Mike and I really enjoyed our morning hike traversing most of the park. The trails are of moderate difficulty, with some hopping from rock to rock, small hills, interesting landscapes and beautiful views. Oh, and a pack of wild turkeys (the mystery birds from the other night revealed themselves to us while we were hiking).