Sylvan Lake, Black Hills, South Dakota

We really enjoyed our time in the Badlands, South Dakota but after a few days it was time to move on. The mountains and wildlife of the Black Hills were waiting for us and the Game Lodge campsite in Custer State Park became our next base camp. The Black Hills have a big variety of landscapes to offer, from mixed grass prairies to granite outcroppings, like at Sylvan Lake. Ponderosa pine forests are a big part of it but othervaried forest communities can be found as well.

My desire to spend time in Custer State Park was triggered by an older issue of the BT Journal, a quarterly magazine, produced by famous wildlife, landscape, and aviation photographer Moose Peterson and his wife. The subtitle says, “the journal for taking your photography to new heights!” Hands down, the BT Journal is one of the best sources for exact that. Moose Peterson’s profound knowledge about locations, the wildlife, and sharing his photography skills with us is invaluable. I have studied the October 2012 issue of the magazine, The Black Hills - A Photographer’s Paradise, many times before and it bought us a lot of time, because we knew already where to look for critters and locations.

Grace Coolidge Creek ran right in front of our tent but there was only a very small time window in the morning when a shot like this was possible. For the rest of the day the creek was in the shade.

The campsite is just a stone throw away from Wildlife Loop Road and being out there before sunrise or coming back after sunset isn’t difficult to manage. Other destinations in the Black Hills are also not too far and this makes the State Game Lodge area a great base camp. If camping is not your cup of tea you can stay at the State Game Lodge or some other ones nearby.