Thursday, December 29, 2011

West River Highlights - December 2011

A group of mule deer south of Midland, SD

I was able to take some vacation time right before Christmas this year. I borrowed a long lens from a friend at work and went on a quest for western South Dakota wildlife, ghost towns and to just simply wander on some back roads. This post will give you a general overview on some of the sights I was able to see. I'll follow up in a day or two with another post on the ghost town quest. In the meantime, enjoy the photos (click on each image for a larger file to view) and thanks for stopping by!

A new view of the Badlands (at least for me) as I approached the park on the White River gravel road that you take a few miles south of Kadoka. Great scenery along this road. I wish I would have known about it a lot sooner than now!

A couple shots of a nice mule buck that crossed road in the Badlands right in front of me. This was near the Bigfoot Pass viewpoint I believe.

Here are a few shots of sunrise at Wind Cave National Park. At first light, the coyotes began to call each other from opposite ridges. It was really quite something to listen to.

The color from the early morning clouds gave a unique hue to this shot of a grazing elk in Wind Cave National Park.

I stayed in a cabin at Game Lodge area of Custer State Park. I was the only one there for three nights. Solitude is bliss. Here is a two hour exposure of the stars wheeling around the North Star just 50 yards behind the cabin I stayed in.

After my stay in the hills I traveled north towards the Slim Buttes and Short Pine Hills area of northwestern SD. The day was overcast with occasional heavy snow flurries. The photo below is haystack butte in Butte county and it reminded me of the paintings my late uncle Jack Reich would paint. I swear this exact scene is in one of his paintings. I just can't remember which.

I had never been to the Short Pine Hills before so the below photos are my first views of the Eastern portion. The highest point is called Moreau Peak. I grew up along the Moreau River further west of these hills. In fact, the southern branch of the Moreau River originates in these hills if I read the map correctly.

Here is a shot of the West Pine Hills.
Looking back to the East Pine Hills from the road that goes through the ghost town of Harding, SD.

Here is a shot of one of my favorite views of the Moreau River. The bend in river to the right contained our "fishing hole" that my brothers and I spent time in search of catfish as well as other things.
Another lovely west river sunset just south and east of Isabel, SD at an abandoned farmstead.

I saved my favorite for last. This is a shot of the sunset on Christmas Day out near Thunder Butte. It was an amazing show. I need to take more vacation time like this!

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