Intriguing Landscapes and Abundant Wildlife in the South Dakota Badlands

June 8–12, 2023

In a vast landscape that was once an ancient sea, thousands of years of rain and wind have transformed layers of sedimentary rock, mudstone, and volcanic ash into one of the most dramatic geologic features in North America. The eroded and colorfully striped buttes, jagged peaks, and steep canyons of the Badlands are surrounded by the largest mixed-grass prairie remaining on the continent.

In addition to outstanding opportunities for landscape and interpretive nature images, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to photograph wildlife, including bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and prairie dogs. Be ready for non-stop photography and instruction from sunrise to sunset and beyond.

Our workshop is timed for the season of green grasses, wildflowers, young animals, and dramatic skies created by the tremendous lighting and thunderstorms that roll across the plains. Included in the workshop is a doors-off helicopter tour over the visually striking buttes and valleys of the Badlands.

We’ll also spend time in Custer State Park, South Dakota’s largest state park and home to a diverse ecosystem ranging from short grass prairie to granite spires in a Ponderosa pine forest. The park is well-known for herds of bison as well as pronghorn, deer, elk, and more. We’ll cap our workshop with a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial.


South Dakota, USA




June 8–12, 2023

Fitness Level



Open for Registration
Limited to 8 Guests


About the wildlife: This workshop offers significant opportunities for photographing wildlife, and while we do our best to maximize our wildlife encounters—based on past experiences, local knowledge, and the current conditions—we need to impress upon you that the wildlife really is wild and that we don’t control it.

This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, local conditions, and other factors.

June 8, 2023: Arrive in Rapid City, South Dakota by 2:00 PM. We’ll pick you up at the airport and transport you to our hotel in Wall, SD. After a brief introductory meeting, we’ll head out for sunset in the Badlands at White River Valley Overlook.

June 9, 2023: We’ll be out early to catch sunrise and early morning light from the Window and Door Trails (both are short, easy hikes). From there, we drive the Loop Road with an eye out for wildlife on our way to lunch at Cedar Pass Lodge. Returning to Wall, we’ll have an afternoon image review. We’ll return to the Badlands for sunset at Hay Butte Overlook.

June 10, 2023: Our sunrise location this morning is Big Badlands Overlook. From there, we’ll head to the Burns Basin Overlook for more photography of the amazing eroded formations of the Badlands. We’ll have a good chance of spotting bighorn rams along the way. Late in the afternoon, we’ll do aerial photography with a custom doors-off helicopter tour. For sunset and dusk photography, we’ll head to Panorama Point.

June 11, 2023: This morning we’ll be out at sunrise along Sage Creek Rim Road for a different look at the Badlands as well as photographing bison, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. After breakfast, we’ll check out of our Wall hotel and drive to Custer State Park in the Black Hills. In the afternoon, we’ll drive the Wildlife Loop Road and photograph the dramatic granite spires along Needles Highway. Our lodging tonight is the beautiful Sylvan Lake Lodge. After dinner we’ll have an image review and instruction session.

June 12, 2023: Sunrise this morning will be right at Sylvan Lake. An easy trail leads to multiple vantage points of a stunning rock formation at the end of the lake. Following an early morning visit to Mount Rushmore National Park, we’ll return to Rapid City Airport for afternoon departures.



Moderate: You can handle walks of up to one mile on possibly uneven ground.


Arrive Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota before 2:00 PM on June 8, 2023. Flights out can be made after 2:00 PM on June 12, 2023.

What to Bring

Please see our page How To Prepare For Your Workshop. We will send you a detailed information document 90 days before your workshop. This document will include specifics of where and when to meet, gear and clothing recommendations, and more.

What’s Included

  • Double occupancy lodging. Single available for $675 supplement.
  • All meals, soft drinks, and snacks during the workshop
  • All permits and park fees
  • All transportation during the workshop
  • Photographic guiding and instruction from 2 pros
  • Image reviews and post-processing instruction
  • Adventure, fun, inspiration, and a great time!

Not Included

  • Travel to and from Rapid City, South Dakota.
  • Passport and visa fees (if applicable).
  • Any meals or accommodations before or after the workshop dates.
  • Items of a personal nature.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended).
  • Anything else specifically not listed as included.
  • Single rooming available for $675 supplement.

Payment Terms

  • Your deposit of $2,995 will hold your space in this workshop.
  • The balance is due not later than March 1, 2023.
  • All of our standard Terms and Conditions apply.
  • Need special payment arrangements? No problem, just ask us.


“Greg Vaughn is a class act. He is an excellent instructor and a gentleman. Up till now I have booked trips based on location, but in the future I might book a trip I would otherwise not be too excited about, if he was to be the instructor. ”

— Bob Slackman, Newfoundland '19 and Olympic National Park '21

“Just finished and amazing workshop with Greg and Tom at Yellowstone and Tetons! They gave fantastic input and thoughtfully challenged us while taking us to spectacular locations. My skills were sharpened and my soul was nourished!!!!

This was one of the most intentionally instructive workshops I have attended. I really filled in some gaps I had in my photographic knowledge and also was given a lot to think about and to practice. I am very appreciative. ”

— Sarah Dormois, Yellowstone and Tetons '21