In No Particular Order

As you have come to know, Beautiful Badlands ND is heavy on photographs.  Why just write about a beautiful region when you can show it.  So, we do.  I’ll bet you, too, have taken some of your own favorite images. We tabbed seven locations earlier this year to recommend you photograph. Since the Badlands are bigger than seven places, it’s tough to pick your favorite images, isn’t it.  But it’s fun to look back and plan the next year. (Speaking of planning the next year, here are 5 Badlands attractions to put on your 2021 calendar.)

So, from 2020, these are some of my favorite images from the interior and from the National Park. As you will see, I’m attracted by leading lines in a scene, those elements that draw your eye from one part of an image to another.  That’s why favorite images from 2020 probably have good leading lines.  They’re everywhere in the western part of the state.

I also like asymmetrical balance between light and dark, rough and smooth or cold and hot.  So, you will see, in these images from 2020, there are two sides of every photo that are unlike each other.

Ice Caves

couple on ledge over ice caves

This couple stands on top of the ledge over the Ice Caves. The balance between near and far, left and right gives depth to the image — and dispels the myth that North Dakota is a flat state.


Devils Pass

devils pass

One of the most natural leading lines in the Badlands is the jog known as Devils Pass. It cuts a Z across the image. It’s more than 184 feet from the top to the bottom of the canyon, down below. I know because I set my altimeter and then slid to the bottom. It can be a bit challenging. Er, um, actually very challenging to get from that narrow trail down to the bottom.  For some people, it’s a challenge just getting from one side to the other of Devils Pass.


Magpie Valley

A whole hillside of leading lines all coming toward the soft green valley at Magpie campground and valley. And so there is asymmetry with the rough earth in the foreground, the rugged hills in the background and the soft green valley. The landscape is balanced with a blue and white skyscape.


Goat Pass Road

grand canyon of the Badlands snowy road

In the grand canyon of the Badlands, below Goat Pass Road, a snowy road snakes through the valley, and that’s your leading lines. To balance the warm earth tones below is the cold blue sky and clouds overhead.


Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit

massive clouds and big skies

From a hilltop in the south unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, looking south. The road bisects the image horizontally, and the horizon draws the line between the cold heavy storm clouds and the bright green and gold valley in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The soft landscape of the south unit is mesmerizing.


Petrified Forest

Dark Skies are easy to see approaching. The dramatic color difference, symmetry from top to bottom, cold to hot, dark to light catches my eye.


Cartwright Tunnel

Yeah, this isn’t the most display worthy, but it is one of my favorite images of 2020. It looks like some poltergeist, ghost chaser photo inside one of the Badlands hills — the only one with a tunnel. Light and dark. Vertical ribs, shiney sill plate above the solo person walking through the Cartwright Tunnel.


The Badlands are like a tractor-beam for cameras.  On your phone or on your handheld camera, the lines, color and majesty of the Badlands draws your photo-taking device out of your pocket, out of  your car, out of your carrying case to snap what you see.  Click here to see six tips for getting your best image.

Mary is set to share her selection from 2020. You’ll notice a difference in the two presentations — that’s what makes us such a great couple, different but alike!

Coming Up

Mark your calendar for these top adventures in the North Dakota Badlands.  Readers told us which ones they found most attractive.

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