A state divided by weather

While much of North Dakota was buried with record snow, southwestern North Dakota enjoyed fabulous colors of bright sun and blue skies. The corner of the state missed the storm. However, the weather influenced the color and light in the Badlands.  Evening and morning light while the sun was low was filtered to produce rare colors in the landscape colors.

We started our drive through Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) near Medora late in the day. The sun was near the horizon, but still shining brightly on the Pleasant Valley Ranch.

Peaceful Valley Ranch

Trees are just beginning to turn at the Peaceful Valley Ranch in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The rules for a rare photo

  1. Keep moving, 2. change your angle and 3. look in all directions.  Those are the rules for finding the right scene for photographing the varied slopes in the Badlands

The large valley in the center of the south unit of the TRNP can be viewed from several directions.  Each direction presents a different contrast and color.

snow vally

The little bit of snow that fell the day before was still hiding in the shade near Boicourt Trail. The cool colors contrast with the warm colors in the landscape.

From the east, it had one look.

From the south, it looked different, again.

golden hour valley badlands

Nearly full moon

As the sun sets, colors change. (it’s hard to tell when exactly the sunsets. It will be below the horizon when you’re in the lowland, but get on top of a hill and it is still shining.)

We turned around when we lost the light.  We new a nearly full moon would appear, but we hadn’t checked the time.  

As we got near the entrance to the park at about milepost 4, there it was!

Nearly full moon october sunset sky

The sun was fully set behind us when we caught the last available light of the orange moon.

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This is a great time of year to explore the landscape colors of the Badlands, the two units of the TRNP, the Elkhorn Ranch and the Little Missouri State Park.

Though the changing weather gave us unusual coloring of the Badlands, there are plenty of colors in the Badlands this time of year. You can get full exposure to the fall colors along the Little Missouri River.  Drive north along either West River Road, or East River Road from Medora.

As we’ve found out here. Autumn is a good time to explore the Badlands.  The TRNP has fewer visitors, the weather is cool to allow a more pleasant exercise such as these, and the trails are in good shape.

To learn more about all kinds of news from the Badlands, just follow Beautiful Badlands on Facebook.  It’s a clearinghouse of information from Bowman and Marmarth north to Watford City and Williston.