Badlands National Park, USA

This is an old webpage carried forward to our new site. Please note that some of the information might be out of date and we probably have newer footage.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is a hundred thousand acre park in western South Dakota. Its most striking features are its highly eroded buttes, walls, and draws set with a prairie ecosystem.

The park contains some of the best of what is left of the once vast Great Plains biome. It is an excellent place for hiking and backpacking, especially just before and after the middle of summer. But bring water as that is a rare resource in the park.

Favorite wildlife species in the park include bison, prairie dogs, coyotes, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, badger, and the grassland birds. Mountain lions and bobcats are also present but much more difficult to see. The prairie dog colonies are an especially good place to see wildlife as both herbivores and predators concentrate in that area.

Badlands National Park is a park in transition as the South Unit of the park will likely be transferred to the Oglala Sioux Tribe to form the first tribal national park in the country. The North Unit, which is where most visitation occurs, will remain as a traditional national park unit.

Badlands National Park Stock Footage

Every season brings dramatic changes to Badlands National Park and what to film. With good rains the prairie is a vibrant green in the spring. The lush vegetation can stand in stark contrast to the barren badlands features. Spring and early summer is also the time of the newborns including newborn bison, prairie dog, pronghorn antelope and other species. It is also the time of year when when the prairie comes alive with sound. Bring a polarizer for dramatic shows of the vast blue sky against the green prairie.

Summer can be tough in that temperatures can reach a hundred degrees or more. Many species will seek shelter during the day. But some like the prairie dog are still active. Come late summer, specifically late July to mid August, is the bison mating season. For the film-maker it is a special time. Make good use of slow motion and if you can backlight your subject it will show the dust that is stirred up by the powerful creatures.

Fall is the breeding season of some of the other large mammals including the mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and bighorn sheep. The ash draws bring a bit of fall color to the landscape.

Winter is by far the most challenging season to film Badlands wildlife due to the harsh weather. Furthermore, a lot of the wildlife is gone as the birds have migrated south and the amphibians and reptiles are in hibernation. But those species that stick around, such as the bison, show what it takes to survive as they persist in the harsh climate.