Bighorn Lambs at Badlands National Park

Bighorn lambs survey their new world from the highest perspective they could find at Badlands National Park.

Joyce and I just returned from an abbreviated trip to Badlands National Park. Our plan was to stay at Cedar Pass Lodge cabins, which are in the park near the east entrance, for a week but we finally pulled out after only a couple of days due to relentless and often intense rain with no sign of respite for the rest of the week. The rain and subsequent mud made for some interesting images of bighorn sheep and their very young lambs in the highest section of the park near the Pinnacles Overlook. The lambs were so muddy, it was often difficult to spot them climbing among the hoodoos and other formations. Below is a photo essay from our brief adventure.

A muddy lamb descends a sedimentary formation. Some of the lambs were so young you could see their dried umbilical cords hanging from their bodies as they explored the rocks.

Often we found lambs out exploring on their own in large groups but a call from mama would bring them running for a quick meal.

A gang of lambs explores the rocks. It was so interesting to watch them running across the razorback ridges and up and down the steep formations, I could hardly pull myself away, even during heavy rain.

A hungry lamb paws at mama’s back in an effort to obtain access to breakfast. Mama wasn’t having any of it.

The frustrated lamb finally gave up and joined its sibling for a nap in the rain.

A female bighorn sheep takes a needed rest at dusk on the evening of our arrival. Looks like she found a nice spot.

Up close and personal through my 500 mm lens.

So many wonderful moments with the bighorns and their lambs.

This is the area where I photographed the lambs. As you can see, it is quite a playground for the little scramblers.

Badlands National Park always brings a smile to my face, even in the worst of conditions.

As a three-time visitor to Badlands, I feel I can provide a couple of tips. If you can afford them, the Cedar Pass Lodge cabins inside the East Entrance to the park are wonderful. They are right in the middle of the action and a short walk from the park’s restaurant so you don’t have to worry about bringing food. The cabins are roomy, much better than the old ones, with front and back porches with huge rustic chairs. They now have WiFi and flat screen TVs which may or may not be to your liking. I recommend that you reserve your cabin early, as with all National Parks, or you will come up short.

If you want to get a good look at the bighorn sheep in the park, they live near the Pinnacles Overlook, as mentioned earlier. There is only one paved road through the park, The Loop Road, and it is about 20 miles up that road from the cabins to the Pinnacles, which is also the highest part of the park, except for the Rim Trail, a gravel road that goes even higher. Unfortunately, the Rim Trail was closed due to muddy conditions while we were there. By the way, the best look at prairie dogs is up on the Rim Trail when it is open. If the Rim Trail is closed, the best look at prairie dogs is across the Loop Road and west of the Burns Basin Overlook. You can’t miss them.

The Cedar Pass area where the cabins are is actually my favorite part of the park for scenery. There are several short trails near the cabins, all with great opportunities for sunrise and sunset photography. I recommend avoiding the overlooks for photography and heading out on foot for more intimate viewpoints. Maybe it’s just me but I never get great images at overlooks.

When you arrive at the park, I recommend you go straight to the Ben Reifel Visitor’s Center and speak to a ranger about the latest critter sightings and locations. We came to the park with some good intel from my friend, Cortney Cox, who had just left the park, and a quick visit with a park ranger provided additional details about the bighorn lambs, prairie dogs, and other critters.

Don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you have questions about visiting Badlands. I would love to help make your trip more enjoyable in any way I can.

Happy Naturing,


Note:  I have disabled comments because I have been so remiss in responding to your input via that format. On the other hand, if you email me comments or questions you will receive and almost immediate response, right from my iPhone. I’m sorry in advance if this causes temporary inconvenience for any of you.

Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com


America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.



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