First, let’s chat about the weather at the Badlands. The very long range models are just now starting to have a look at things. Right now, there are some suggestions that we could see some storms that week. Since my goal is indeed storm photography, that’s great news. Right now, I can’t comment on temps. The model I am looking at is legit thinking that the highs will be in the mid 60’s… While comfy, I don’t buy it. the average high that time of year should be the mid to upper 70’s. Basically, be prepared for anywhere from comfy to hot. As we get closer I’ll post another update with a more detailed look at the weather.
This time, I will be brining my “big” tent. Last year during my solo trip to the Badlands, I used my solo tent. I love that tent. It’s small, lightweight, and just big enough for me. But, I want just a bit more room this time, so I will be brining my REI Grand Hut 4. I will still have my solo with me just in case, especially if the grand hut has wind issues. That really is it’s Achilles heel. But, it has lots of tie downs so it should be ok. Plus, if there is severe weather coming that I am concerned about, I will take it down and sleep in the Outback. I will be staying at the Cedar Pass campground which is technically within the park. It’s right next to the visitor center. Last I checked it did look like it was full at this point. There is also a campground just outside the park which was also decent. They also had cabins and rooms available if you are not a tent camper.
Badlands Hiking and Wildlife
When there are not storms, I will be hiking around the park. There are several viewing points around the Badlands of course, but I also want to get out and explore a bit. One thing I would like to try to do is get down into the south/west side of the park more. The west side tends to have more bison and wildlife, while the south end is only accessible by AWD/4WD vehicles. My outback should be good with most of them, but I will still need to research where is safe to go. I also need to be sure that where I explore is not on private land, as there is quite a bit scattered throughout the area.
If the temps are indeed good, I would like to try to hike one of the main trails if possible. It’s about a 5mi hike though, so I would need to try to have someone meet me at the end as I don’t think I can do a return trip. Otherwise, there are several 1-3mi hikes that are absolutely worth the effort, and I will hopefully do at least a couple of them. If you want to see the park from a different angle, there are helicopter tours. Depending how much extra money I have around, if anyone does meet out out there and wants to go, there is a tour just at the main entrance to the park. I did the short one last year. You can see vide from that below
For wildlife, there is a range. As I mentioned before, the western side of the park has more bison, but also has pronghorns. There are plenty of prairie dogs scattered throughout the park, and they are fun to watch. You will find bighorn sheep everywhere. There are rattlesnakes as well, though I never heard/saw any. If you are a bird fan, there are magpies everywhere as well as some others. I like birds, but I know nothing about them.
Food and Other at the Badlands
I’ll be brining nearly everything. I don’t have a huge cooler, so I tend to rely on dried and canned foods. Yeah, not very exciting. If there are several people coming, I would be interested in having a group head over to Wall to visit the Famous Wall Drug!
Also, If a day looks like there could be storms near Devils Tower in Wyoming, I will likely make the trek. I want badly to get some lightning photos around the tower. It’s a 3hr drive, but honestly if the lightning risk looks good, I will make the trek. Plus, Devils tower is cool too!
There is a small restaurant on site, but it’s…meh. Not bad, but not great and not much of a menu. Maybe it’s the COVID stuff, I don’t know. So, if you are going to be here for multiple days, be sure to pack accordingly. If you need supplies, there is a gas station just outside the Badlands that is well stocked.
Stop by and visit for a day, or several. I would love some company and people to talk storms and photography with. While the campground is full, if you are a back country camper, there are places in the park where you can set up as well. I have thought about it many times, but right now I am not set up for it. Soon…one day…when my other project on the back burner is finally done.
If you are interested, enter your info below. And thanks for reading!