Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Badlands sunrise and sunsets

Thanks to reader Dennis Racicot, who asked for more specifics on where to shoot sunrises and sunsets in Badlands National Park. The answer is almost anywhere!

Badlands is one of those places that has so many twists and turns, peaks and valleys that there are literally thousands of angles to shoot. I'll do my best to point to some of the better ones.

I really like the Doors and Windows Overlook on the east edge of the park, just south of the Northeast Entrance at Exit 131 off Interstate 90. A knife-edge ridge runs north and south parallel to the large parking area. Thanks to well-marked hiking trails, you can shoot on either side of the ridge. This means that depending on what your sky looks like you can shoot into the sun or away from it, concentrating on what it's lighting up instead. And you can find good angles morning or evening.

Both of these shots were taken at sunrise from the east side of the ridge with the camera facing southwest. This is just off the trail that departs from the north end of the parking lot. These two spots are less than 50 yards apart.

A mile or so further southwest on the Badlands Loop Road brings you to the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail turnout where this was taken at sunset.

The area around the Fossil Exhibit Trail parking lot offers many views and angles to work with. A graduated tobacco filter helped this sky when the sun wasn't quite setting yet.

And here's a sunset from a higher vantage, at Panorama Point overlook, roughly in the middle of the Badlands Loop. This is facing east at sunset and had those nice clouds to catch the fading colors.

This map will help you follow where all of these locations are:

These are only a small sampling of the many good photo spots in Badlands, but should help you get started. Also, all of these pictures were taken within very short walking distances from the car. If you are a hiker, there are many more opportunities that open up to you.

Good luck Dennis and anyone else traveling the Badlands!


Anonymous said...

Thank you Chad. We're heading to South Dakota July 3 and I really look forward to taking some shots in that beautiful state. Thanks again.


Chad Coppess said...

Glad to help out. If you have any other specific questions, fire away! And don't forget to come back and let me know how the trip goes.

Anonymous said...


We had a great time in your beautiful state. We saw some incredible sights and I came home with about 1000 shots.

The Badlands were something else. Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse were as impressive as they were beautiful. Thank you for help.


Chad Coppess said...

Good to hear! 1,000 shots ought to give you something to work with. Come on back any time and don't forget to share your photos!