Breathtaking Sky

It seems the landscape of the Badlands catches the attention of visitors, but there’s more.  I suggest there’s a second element over the green grass– the powerful skies and massive clouds that give a sense of majesty to the region.

Contrasting colors green blue and yellow

massive clouds and big skies

From a hilltop in the south unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, looking south across I-94.

This amazing spring has been one of the greenest people can remember. Adequate rainfall has pushed the different grasses into a varied patchwork of green.  They come in to maturity in stages, so the green this week will be different than next week.

Same for the clouds.  Often there can be a bit of cloud cover in the morning as cool air has condensed moisture in the atmosphere.  Then, as things heat up, the skies change.

skies clouds and green landscape

Square Butte on the horizon, south of Medora.

Branding Roundup under big skies

A few weeks ago, we were privileged to join up with a branding roundup near Elkhorn Ranch, north of Medora.  So, we stopped to allow the cowboy traffic jam to pass and were invited to stick around and photograph the afternoon.

cattle come over the hill under massive clouds

All afternoon, clouds ambled around the landscape, never staying in one place, too long, but always keep the roundup nearby.


storm clouds three horse riders

Just over the horizon, storm clouds darkened the skies, but the roundup wasn’t touched by a drop of rain.

Elkhorn delivers clouds and skies

Then, a week ago, we got a second privilege — to lead a group of bloggers and writers to visit the Elkhorn Ranch at the end of the day.  When the light cooperates, the view from Elkhorn and the clouds to the east are quite impressive.

clouds little missour irver hill

From T Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch, across the Little Missouri River, the face of the hill he often wrote about — and storm clouds to the east many miles. They look like they are almost overhead.

The road to the Elkhorn Ranch is like most roads in the Badlands. Gravel. Hilly. Winding. And they provide great opportunities for photos of the massive powerful skies covering the green badlands.

raod through the badlands, blue skies and white cloouds

At the end of the day, in the Badlands, the landscape turns to gold.  That’s why it’s called the “Golden Hour.” And an example is north of Camels Hump, northwest of Medora, the grasslands and the Badlands provide a warm foreground to the rippled clouds overhead.

Use the skies

The massive palette of Badlands skies is the perfect compliment to the sculpture of the hills. Even in autumn, you’ll collect a bounty of beauty from the sky and the hills.  So, the next time you are planning on visiting the North Dakota Badlands here’s our advice:  Watch the weather. Then you can plan to go when you know there will be a few clouds. If you do, you’ll collect a bounty of keepsake images.    It’s what we do.  We love it

The best bookstore in the region is Medora's Western Edge Books, Artwork & Music. It's filled with both fiction and non fiction for all ages, and is a wealth of historical information about the area. Adjacent Amble Inn provides extra hospitable, moderately priced lodging, including hostel space.

More than books, artwork, too. Medora’s Western Edge Bookstore filled with fiction and non-fiction for all ages. It is a wealth of historical information about the area.

when people visit our photo site, browse the images and select some to use as keepsakes or wall decor.  You can see why the Badlands and the prairies are our favorite model at

You can also see a selection of our Beautiful Badlands images at the Western Edge Bookstore in Medora.