Visiting the Dakota Badlands
North Dakota was one of the last two states I had not visited, with Alaska being the final one. I flew into Bismarck the state capital, a prairie town of just over 70,000 people. Not much there to warrant a visit, besides seeing the modernistic state capital building, small art museum, and a chance to grab breakfast at the Little Lodge Café (highly recommended) on the outskirts of the town. After landing in Bismarck we headed west to Dickinson, North Dakota and checked into our hotel. We used Dickinson as our base to explore the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and The Grasslands reserve that links the two separate parks that make up TRNP. Each park section is separated by 68 miles of grassland that is used by ranchers in the area. TPNR is one of the best national parks I have visited. The two separate sections of the park represent divergent eco systems. Both have wildlife, but the northern section has a greater density of trees than the southern one. The southern section offers a more Dakota Badlands experience. The Little Missouri River runs through both park sections. Landscape and wildlife photographers will find much to see and do. The southern section Wind Canyon Overlook is a must for sunset photos, and Buck Hill provides you with a 360-degree panorama of the park’s southern section. There are a lot of great hiking trails in both sections, but make sure you bring plenty of water with you. The climate in the Dakota Badlands is drier than most. Right outside of the park’s southern entrance is the town of Medora. Small town, with lots of touristy shops, but it’s your best place to eat and stay. If I visit this park again, I would definitely stay in Medora over Dickinson. Dickinson is 33 miles from the park, but hotels are a lot less money than Medora. The park is open all year. You pick up a lot of American history by visiting the park. I have a more profound respect and admiration for Theodore Roosevelt. He was the best conservation President we ever had, setting aside some 230 million acres of the U.S. for future generations to experience the American wilderness. This trip was the first time I used the Olympus EM1X in the field shooting wildlife and landscapes. I brought along the 12-100mm f/4, 300mm f/4, 12mm f/2 Olympus lenses, a Gitzo travel tripod, Really Right Stuff ball head, and the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 lens. I did use all of the gear I brought along. EM1X worked great, and the lighter weight of camera and lenses were music for my back. I highly recommend a visit to TRNP, it’s a gem that isn’t crowded.