Good things from the Badlands photo gallery
It sure was easy to get bogged down by all the stress of 2020, but I’m learning to look for the good things. In fact, I get downright excited to do just that — look for the good things to go in our photo gallery —https://www.mykuhls.com/Beautifulmykuhls.com.
I’m grateful to be able to spend time in the North Dakota Badlands. When I return from a trip to the west, I come back encouraged and refreshed.
Each month of 2020, I found something to enjoy, celebrate, like and capture for our photo gallery.
Warm sunny January days are rare. So when one comes along, we already know where we want to be. In this case, we set out to explore old Highway 85. It was a quarter mile or so, west of the current Highway 85 and the Long X Bridge — which is now gone.
We hiked down the old road. It amazed us at the switchbacks and the exciting views old travelers saw.
One of the most scenic roads in North Dakota is not easy to get to. But once we found Goat Pass Road, we return often. Every ridge and hill provides a vista overlooking the area, including Magpie Creek Valley. (We have many photos in our photo gallery from Magpie.) Even though the day was cloudy, there was still enough color to frame the snow marking one of the roads down below.
Sure enough, winter passed us. Spring approached us, and we were ready for it. Blue skies and dry ground let us explore Magpie Creek Valley. The creek whiplashes back and forth across a wide open valley floor. So, we know if we cross it once, we’ll cross it again.
Magpie Campground is one of our favorite campgrounds. A wildfire swept through in 2017, but it’s clean and open now.
By April, families were enjoying the warm air and easy open strolls across the grasslands to the cliffs above the Ice Caves. The Ice Caves became one of the top destinations for families in 2020 because it is easy to get to, the views are incredible and of course, if you don’t mind hunkering down, you can get in to the one cave that is still accessible.
Wildlife in the Badlands are part of the beauty of the region to celebrate. Wildlife does well in the Badlands.
Grazing patterns of bighorn sheep changed a little this year. They moved farther away from where we often saw them, east of Highway 85 and near the CCC Campground on the west side of Highway 85. The heavy construction activity replacing the Long X Bridge may have been responsible for moving bighorns farther into the north unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
So, when I saw a small flock grazing just over a hill, I quietly, slowly moved into a favorable position where this ram grazed his way up the hill toward me. This has become one of our best images in our photo gallery on www.mykuhls.com.
June means green in the Badlands, and this year did not disappoint. When I scroll through the monthly images, it is apparent that the region’s greening improves month by month.
July gave us many opportunities for favorite images. The adventure we had, exploring the National Natural Landmark of Capitol Rock was one of our most exciting moments. So, that rock had to win a place in the year’s best-of-the-month images. I couldn’t make the hard choice to settle on one image. So, I picked two from that same day, both taken within a few miles of each other near the beginning of the Little Missouri River, on the very south edge of the Badlands. Capitol Rock is west of Camp Crook, and the cattle grazing on the Little Missouri River is east of Camp Crook, SD.
Oh oh, here comes the end of summer. When wild sunflower start to show up, that means the brilliant flowers have nearly completed their growth cycle and fall is approaching.
The yellow of August sunflower is soon duplicated by the aspen and cottonwoods along the Little Missouri River. The other side of the Little Missouri River, here, is the Long X Trail that begins at the CCC Campground. Visitors at the north unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park see this vista from the scenic road in the park.
This year, it was still warm enough in October for bull snakes like this one to be sunning themselves. It’s cool enough, even in the warm sun, that the cold-blooded creatures are a bit sluggish. That means they pose for photos such as this one. It was coiled on the path where I was headed. He and I squared off until he moved away, and I continued on my trek.
“Quick!” she said. We need to find a place to take our annual Christmas photo.
This year, there wasn’t much snow anywhere in the Badlands in November, but the views were still very rewarding. So, from Devils Pass, we pointed the camera to the south, took our position and waited for the self-timer to click.
One last trip to Devils Pass ended on a sunny evening, brilliant yellows. And still, no snow. The two-track trail, often used by hunters, leads to a peak over Devils Pass. When it’s not muddy or snowy, it’s a wonderful destination before your hike across the pass.
Watch and See what comes to the 2021 photo gallery
The Badlands are open. That’s why with 2021 underway, we plan to do what we’ve done very year — explore and share our next trip.
It could be Caprock Coulee or Summit Trail, next week. This winter has been open, January is milder than average.
Right where you are
Right where you are right now, you will see what the Badlands are like this winter. We’ll show you when we add images to our photo gallery.