We have been on the road a lot in the past month and half, and I am finally getting caught up on my photography backlog. One of those trips took us to South Dakota. Along the way, we stopped in one of my favorite National Parks up in North Dakota.
Several years ago, I did a motorcycle drive out to visit family. While on that trip, I cut up into North Dakota to see Teddy Roosevelt National Park. I have a check list of National Parks I want to visit (well the check list is actually all of them) and given TRNPs location pretty far off the beaten path of my normal travels a special trip was in order. That first trip had me driving my motorcycle through some of the worst thunderstorms and rain I have ever seen. So by the time I got to the park I was wet, cold, wet, tired, and did I mention wet. Desperate for a hot shower and dry clothes, I didn’t spend much time in the park on that trip. However, even in that short time, I feel in love with the park. It had an amazing combination of beauty, ruggedness, solitude and energy that is unique to that park. So with a trip cut short, I knew one day I would have to come back.
Lori’s family had a reunion in South Dakota this summer and we planned on driving this time out. After listening to me whine about the park for a few days, Lori, Eva (the new dog) and I headed out with a route that would led us up and through the park. Since I had such amazing memories of the park, I told everyone how awesome the park was and how cool I was for having been there before (Eva wasn’t all the impressed with my world travel bragging, but she was at least a little more impressed than Lori). I told Eva all about buffalo, prairie dogs, sheep and Badlands history, and how much Grady our old dog didn’t like buffalo. Needless to say, I had put a little pressure on the park to deliver. And like most National Parks, it did in a big way.
The park was so amazing that we went back home the same way so that I could have more time to photograph in the park. That second day was just after a huge thunderstorm blew across the park leaving behind amazing clouds and a freshness to the park. I drove the 36 mile south unit loop with the windows open taking in all the sights and smells. The lingering smell of the rain mixed with the grasses and brush was intoxicating, and the sky was this amazing field of textures, color and light.
As sunset fell on the park and I looked out across the vastness and beauty of the badlands, I was reminded of just how amazing this planet we live on truly is and what we value in our time here. It was an experience I will again never forget.
I was playing with a RX1 I rented from the fine folks over at Borrow Lenses. While I am blown away by the image quality of the Sony, I am still in the market for a ranger finder style camera. I don’t know what it is, but I really like that view finder and only working with an LCD screen changes my association to the work. Not better or worse, just different. So I am still thinking about how that experience would work for me and it if works for me. So until them, I will keep shooting with my trusty D700.
The Teddy Roosevelt National Park is located in eastern North Dakota right off I–94 at Medora. The park was founded in 1947 in honor of the former President. President Roosevelt came to the North Dakota Badlands in 1883 to hunt buffalo. The experiences he took away from that visit and subsequent visits where key in his policy and conservation efforts as President.
The park is well over 70,000 acres and split into two area. For our visit, we stayed in the south unit part of the park. Open year round, the park has tons of wildlife, vistas and amazing geology and history. There is camping in the park. If you are passing that direction or looking for an amazing place to visit, you can’t go wrong with Teddy.