Sandhill cranes are best known for their migration over the Platte River in Nebraska, but they also migrate through South Dakota in spring and fall. The cranes use their large wingspan to stay aloft for hours, roost in wetland areas in the evening and fly into feeding grounds in early morning. Stu Surma spotted these just north of Java last week.
Morning sunshine slowly dissolved the fog shrouding Green Island on the Missouri River near Yankton this week. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.
A buffalo calf frolics in the field at Wild Idea Buffalo Ranch. Pat Hansen
took this photo during a workshop at the annual Black Hills Photo Shootout.
The Missouri River bridge at Mobridge stretches 5,058 feet across Lake Oahe, the fourth largest reservoir in the United States. Photo by Jerry Grabow.
Today marks the 51st annual buffalo roundup at Custer State Park. The 71,000-acre park is home to one of the world’s largest publicly-owned bison herds. Each fall, park employees and volunteers gather nearly 1,300 buffalo for branding and vaccination. Between 200 and 500 will be auctioned off on November 19 to help manage herd numbers with available forage. Joel Schwader
shared this photo of the roundup with us last year.
We thought we’d share this photo of a young book-worm by Stephen Gassman
in honor of the South Dakota Festival of Books. Our staff is heading to Brookings for the festivities this weekend. Pull the guide out of our Sept/Oct issue and join us!
Our Sept/Oct issue includes a story on Dale Lamphere’s Dignity, a 50-foot sculpture depicting a Native American woman wrapped in a star quilt. Final construction was completed this week and its unveiling is scheduled for Saturday (September 17) in Chamberlain. Photo by Kathleen Ann
The sun sets over the Missouri River near Yankton. Aerial photo by Dave Tunge
A white buffalo is considered spiritually significant in many Native American religions. They are often seen as a symbol of sacred life and visited for prayer. While true albino births are rare, lighter buffalo are becoming more prevalent likely due to cross breeding. Bernie Hunhoff photographed this one near Fort Pierre.
, a regular South Dakota Magazine contributor, shared this recent photo of Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. Gassman is serving his ninth straight year as artist in residence there.
A storm cell creates a stunning backdrop over fields northeast of Canton. Photo by Paul Schiller
The summer sunset creates a striking silhouette of horses grazing near Aberdeen. Photo by Heather Schwan
Summer in South Dakota often means storms, even in the Black Hills area where the climate is considered semi-arid. Brad Rohrich
caught this ominous cloud over southern Rapid City last weekend.
The 76th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts August 8th, but Yankton geared up early with its annual Rock-N-Rumble rally last weekend and motorcycle parade over the Meridian Bridge Saturday afternoon. The historic Missouri River bridge closed to motorized vehicles in 2009 and reopened as a pedestrian bridge in 2011. It’s the longest pedestrian bridge in the USA that connects two states over a major river. Photo by Dave Tunge
This week we said a sad goodbye to our long-time friend Juli Wilcox from Yankton. Juli was a well-known nature photographer and often shared her photos with the magazine, like this red fox which we recently featured.
It was a late night for the crew harvesting the Lindskov family wheat crop between Milesville and Bridger on Highway 34 this week. Photo by Monte James of Yankton.
Sioux Falls photographer Christian Begeman
caught this lightning storm over Sylvan Lake while serving as Custer State Park artist in residence in June.
Pronghorn twins are fairly common, but triplets are rare. “It happens in the park about once every five years or so,” says Black Hills wildlife photographer Dick Kettlewell, who found this set in Custer State Park. “At about two or three weeks old, these three are coming out of the hiding phase, which speaks well for their mother’s efforts that she has managed to keep them from a coyote’s jaw.” â€ª#PhotoFridayâ€¬
A nanny mountain goat and kid peer curiously at visitors along Needles Highway in the Black Hills. Photo by Bonny Fleming
Hunter Johnson, of Kadoka, was bucked from a bull at the River Region High School Rodeo in Fort Pierre last weekend. "You could see from the time he got on the bull in the chute that it was going to be a spirited ride,” says Bob Grandpre
, who caught the moment on film. "Hunter came so close to completing the ride, but the bull finally decided he had enough."
The sun sets over two fishermen at Oakwood Lakes State Park near Bruce. Photo by Zachary Wicks
The Milky Way glows over an abandoned chapel near the southern border of Badlands National Park's Stronghold District. Photo by Christian Begeman
Lemmon’s Petrified Wood Park is a lunar-like assortment of spires, castles, benches, trees and even a waterfall — all made in the 1930s from petrified wood dating back 50 million years. Photo by John Mitchell
No fishing license? No problem. May 20-22 is Free Fishing and Open House Weekend at state parks throughout South Dakota. Photo of Stockade Lake in Custer State Park by Chad Coppess, S.D. Tourism.
The old mining camp of Pactola is now buried beneath the deep waters of Pactola Reservoir, the largest lake in the Black Hills. The lake is popular with campers, boaters and anglers alike. Photo by Cody Lere
The setting sun kisses Bear Butte good night. Photo by Bonny Fleming
Several wet years turned Lake Thompson, in Kingsbury County, from a marsh into the state’s biggest natural lake. Photo by Zachary Wicks
The sun sets over prairie north of Box Elder. Photo by Bonny Fleming
Have you ever seen the sun sparkle off the peaks at Badlands National Park? Plan your visit this week (April 16-24) because admission to all National Parks — including seven in South Dakota — is free! The National Park Service is celebrating it's 100th birthday this year. This photo was captured by Chad Coppess, South Dakota Tourism.
Francis Case Memorial Bridge, named for the South Dakota politician who sought to expand the state’s road and waterway infrastructure, connects the Missouri River bluffs of Gregory and Charles Mix Counties. Photo by Emily Stukel.
More than a million people a year visit Spearfish Canyon, a Black Hills valley that ranks among the most beautiful 20-mile stretches in the USA. John Mitchell
snapped this photo there in March.
More than 200 animal species are known to eat dirt, including the bison that roam Custer State Park. Their diet is mostly grasses and sedges, so they consume dirt to take in nutrients those plants lack. Harlan Humphrey found this bison at one of the park’s natural lick sites.
It’s beginning to look a lot like spring! John Mitchell
spotted these pasqueflowers in Spearfish Canyon last weekend.
Alscessa Elsey glides gracefully over the ice at the Fort Pierre Expo Center. Her performance titled “Heart of the Wind” was part of Central South Dakota Skate Club’s “Happy Days on Ice.” Photo by Bob Grandpre
A concrete T. rex looms over Rapid City’s Dinosaur Park. The park, built in 1936, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Bonny Fleming
Sun dogs are caused by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere. They often appear as a full or partial halo around the sun with colored spots of light on the left and right. Dan Mueller spotted this one while traveling between Madison and Sioux Falls.
A rough-legged hawk leaps from a fencepost on Chicken Creek Road just west of Spearfish. Photo by Jon Larsen
Valentine's Day is coming so we thought we'd remember Henry "Tub" Rath. Every Valentine's Day, Rath delivered flowers or candy to the ladies of Wasta. He made similar deliveries on Easter, Mother's Day and Christmas. When he was healthy, he delivered gifts to front doors. As he grew older, he gave a friendly honk of his pickup horn. Holidays are quieter in Wasta since Rath died in 2007. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.
A whitetail deer leaps through a field in Bennett County. Photo by Wayne Fuchs.
The sun sets over Badlands National Park near Pinnacles Overlook. Photo by April Oedekoven.
Dozens of eagles winter near Yankton on the last wild stretch of the Missouri River, where they sun themselves on ancient cottonwoods, fish and hunt and occasionally entertain Yanktonians with their air acrobatics. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.
The Oscar-nominated movie The Revenant is partly based on the legend of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who was mauled by a grizzly bear in August of 1823. The director took some liberties with the story, including setting it in winter and filming much of it in Canada, but the attack actually happened on the Grand River grasslands south of present-day Lemmon. Here's what the scenery may have looked like if they'd shot the attack scene where it occurred. Photo by Andy Meisner.
Deer meander north of Clear Lake on a frosty Monday morning. Photo by Tyler Wahlen.
Overnight lows near zero degrees make for steamy mornings on the Missouri near Yankton. Photo by Sam Stukel
This serene scene at the Sully County courthouse in Onida was taken by Christine Sorensen.
Hoar frost settles on Riverside Park in Yankton. Even in subzero temperatures the Missouri River remains open for waterfowl. Photo by John Andrews.
Over 355,000 lights and LEDs illuminate Falls Park during the annual Winter Wonderland. View the display nightly through January 10. Photo by Paul Schiller
Spearfish sparkles below Lookout Mountain. Photo by John Mitchell
A brisk wind blows in from Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton. Photo by Sam Stukel
Sandstone buttes poke through the prairie signaling the edge of the Badlands near Scenic. Photo by Bonny Fleming
Kendra Perry Koski
shared this photo of friendly cattle south of Colome. "I was on my way home around sunset and they were in the middle of the pasture," Koski says. "When I stopped they all started walking toward me to investigate."
On calm fall evenings the landscape surrounding Faith United Lutheran Church turns golden from harvest dust. This church, formerly known as Zion Lutheran Church, was built near Volin in 1915. Photo by Christian Begeman
Little Elk Creek Canyon near Piedmont provides some of the most rugged hiking in the Black Hills. Massive rock formations and a burbling creek set the scene. Bonny Fleming
spotted this cliffhanging tree there last week.
A dramatic sky, a setting sun and an exuberant photo subject turned out to be a winning combination for April Oedekoven of Rapid City. Her photo of her son “jumping for joy” on Skyline Drive won third place in SDPB’s Picture South Dakota photo contest. See more photos at www.sdpb.org/photocontest
Custer State Park has a long legacy of wildlife preservation — it was originally established as a game preserve in 1913. Today the park's over 71,000 acres are home to bison, bighorn sheep, antelope, elk, coyote, deer and more. Christian Begeman
spotted this young whitetail in the woods.
The idea of volcanoes in South Dakota seems like fantasy, but it almost happened on the edge of the Black Hills. Bear Butte, a cone-shaped mass of igneous rock near Sturgis is the result of ancient volcanic activity that occurred about 65 million years ago. Photo by Jon Larsen
This photo was taken in Spearfish Canyon last Sunday, but Jerry Boyer says now's the peak time for fall foliage. Boyer has been predicting the canyon's peak color season for the last 21 years. "It all depends on September weather," Boyer says. "The drier the September, the more brilliant the fall leaves tend to be ... Studies have shown that trees stressed out by dry soils produce more red pigment in the fall." Photo by John Mitchell
The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects a record soybean crop in South Dakota this year; the latest production report forecasts 233 million bushels. Pat Hansen
photographed this field near Wakonda.
The 50th annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup is Friday, September 25, where the park's animals are sorted, vaccinated and branded. Stu Surma, from Java, shared this photo of an antelope mixing with the herd last year. "The crowd cheered as the antelope made a pass to the gate going to the holding pen," Surma says. "The buffalo were pouring through the gate and the antelope tried several times without success to go through, too. Finally the antelope just jumped the fence and went into the holding pasture."
Crazy Horse Memorial, the world's largest sculpture, hosts a special night blast Labor Day weekend honoring the dual anniversaries of the death of Chief Crazy Horse and the birth of founder and sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.
Our September/October issue features a photo essay of autumn on Highway 18 by Stephen Gassman
. Highway 18 motorists in the vicinity of Tripp have learned to watch for the horse-drawn buggies and farm equipment of several Amish families who have migrated to South Dakota in recent years.
South Dakota produced about 877 million pounds of sunflowers in 2014, the most in the nation. Sara Liberte
spotted these blooms last weekend near Carthage.
Wheat is just dark bread to most Americans, but it encompasses history and a way of life for thousands of South Dakota farm families who harvest about 3 million acres in summer rituals that connect us to the very first homesteaders. Larissa Neugebauer took this photo during July harvest in Douglas County.
Lake Henry near De Smet was named in honor of George Henry, a pioneer resident of the area. It's one of the twin lakes referred to in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books — its sibling is nearby Lake Thompson. Lyndsey Bowling captured this photo of her kids enjoying a beautiful lake sunset.
Every Tuesday this summer, Rapid City's Main Street Square and the Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates host the He Sapa Center for Performing Arts Northern Plains Art Market. The event includes American Indian artists, jewelry, dance and storytelling. This young dancer performed with the Wanbli Ska Drum and Dance Society last Tuesday night. Photo by Joel Schwader
Thunderhead Falls rushes 600 feet deep inside an 1878 goldmine 10 miles west of Rapid City. No one's sure how the waterfall was formed; locals think early miners blasted a hole in Rapid Creek's bed. The mine closed around 1900 due to lack of gold and the falls were forgotten until Vera and Albert Eklund noticed a stream of water pouring down the mountainside in 1949. They hiked the mine's tunnel and were so delighted by their find that they purchased the land and opened the falls to the public. This photo by John Mitchell
shows what the Eklund's may have seen on their trek.
Lake Poinsett was called "the lake of prickly pears" by early-day visitors wary of the cactus on its shores. It became Poinsett in 1838 to honor then Secretary of War Joel R. Poinsett, also known as the man who brought the Poinsettia plant to the U.S. from Mexico. This present day picture was taken by Becky Long
Mountain goats almost seem destined to live in the Black Hills, but none did until the 1920s when a small zoo was built in Custer State Park. It housed bears, wolves, coyotes, a moose from Yellowstone National Park and mountain goats from the Rockies. In 1924 a bear and six goats slipped out of the zoo. The bear was apprehended, but the goats' descendants are still free today. This one was spotted on Needles Highway in June. Photo by Andy Ogan
Fireworks launched from the Stanley County Fairgrounds cap the Independence Day celebration for Pierre and Fort Pierre. Other activities include a rodeo, parade and concert. Photo by Chad Coppess
Two summits in Tripp County southwest of Winner are believed to have been used as an early landmark by French fur traders. Lt. G.K. Warren’s Expedition of 1855 mentions them as “les buttes oreilles de chien” which is French for “Dog Ear Buttes,” which they are still known as today. Photo by Kendra Perry Koski
Agriculture is still a major contributor to South Dakota's economy, and with over 15,000 beef producers in our state, cattle is king. This Angus/Hereford cross was seen grazing near Tilford. Photo by Barry Castetter.
The American avocet's most distinctive feature is its long upturned beak used to help gather food. It wades through shallow water and swings its beak underwater, disrupting insects and other small crustaceans, which are quickly swept up. This one was spotted on the edge of a prairie pothole in southeast Brule County. Photo by Christian Begeman
Bridal Veil Falls, South Dakota's tallest waterfall at around 80 feet, was named for its thin, wide water flow. In the spring, snow melt spews out of a basin at the top of the falls, creating the bridal veil effect, but by late summer the veil looks more like a white ribbon. Photo by John Mitchell
Thirteen different species of frogs and toads can be found in South Dakota, including the chorus frog whose call is a harbinger of spring. It sounds much like what you hear when running your finger down the teeth of a plastic comb. Photo by Bonny Fleming
Mato Paha or "Bear Mountain" is the Lakota name given to Bear Butte, a unique geological rock formation near Sturgis. The site is sacred to the Lakota, who leave offerings at its summit and prayer ties along the 1.8-mile trail that leads to the top, which offers a view of four states. Bear Butte became a state park in 1961. Photo by Jon Larsen
May rains answered the prayers of many South Dakotans this week, including the good people of Lyman County where clouds stormed over the steeple of the old Sweeney Church in Presho. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.
Matt Jackson, of Rapid City, took this photo while hiking Harney Peak. Jackson set a goal to hike to Harney's summit once a month for 10 years. He is just a few months away from completing his 10-year quest.
Baby burros are a sure sign of spring in Custer State Park. Deborah Johnson
of Hot Springs spotted this one a few days ago. The burros in the park are descendants from the herd that once hauled visitors up Harney Peak.
The Chicken Dance — It's the season for prairie chickens to perform their annual ritual! Our friend Juli Wilcox went out and photographed this strange performance on the Fort Pierre National Grasslands. The story will be in our May/June issue.
The sun peeks through the clouds after a week of gloomy weather in the Yankton area. Sam Stukel
took this photo on Lewis & Clark Lake this morning.
It's spring and pasques are appearing! You can find them now until early June on hillsides in the Black Hills and east of the Missouri River. Have you found any? Scott Zoller, Zoller Creative Images
, shared this bunch on Buzzard's Roost west of Rapid City.
Michaela Mader shared this photo of her dog Kaya gazing toward Pactola Lake. She snapped this picture during a hike on the Centennial Trail.
, Sioux Falls, awoke early St. Patrick's day morning and noticed a pale glow on the northern horizon. He gathered his camera equipment and rushed out to see what he could capture. Here's what the solar storm looked like at West Church east of Chester.
of Hot Springs spotted this nearly-camouflaged deer in Wind Cave National Park.
Cindy Lea Bahe, Pierre, shared this photo of a cowboy overlooking the Belle Fourche River breaks in Meade County.
shared this stunner from Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton. It's bitter cold here, but the fiery sky creates an illusion of warmth.
shared this recent sunset on Farm Island near Pierre.
shared this recent sunset at Okobojo Point Recreation Area north of Pierre.
shared this photo from an unseasonably warm 73 degree day in the Black Hills this week. It was taken from the Iron Mountain outlook just before sunset.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Park Service host Bald Eagle Days January 24 and 25 at the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center near Yankton. Programs featuring live raptors take place each day at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. This photo by DeAnn McClure
was taken along the Missouri near Yankton.
shared this photo of Clark Center Lutheran Church. The prairie sanctuary was built in 1898 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. It's a few miles north and a little bit west of Clark.
shared this icy photo from Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton. "It pretty much sums up this week's forecast," Stukel says.
The Merriam's wild turkey is a common sight in the Black Hills, found primarily in the ponderosa pine and western mountain regions of the United States. Kerdall Remboldt found these two toms in his backyard on the outskirts of Rapid City.
snapped this photo on Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton. "The ice formations have been great this year due to the crazy winds and temperature fluctuations we have seen," Stukel says.
Wintering bald eagles concentrate along free-flowing stretches of the Missouri River below its dams and in parts of the Black Hills. John Mitchell
spotted this eagle near Oahe Dam in Pierre.
This week, Bernie Hunhoff visited our Capitol Building in Pierre, the halls of which are filled with over 90 trees decorated for the holidays. Christmas at the Capitol is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Dec. 27. The theme is "125 Years of Christmas in South Dakota."
Wild turkeys are among the 67 species of birds found in Badlands National Park. They're most at home in a shelterbelt or pine forest, but this turkey seemed right at home perched on a craggy Badlands peak. Photo by Kadek Susanto
shared this photo of a frigid morning on Lewis & Clark Lake. Below normal temperatures this week made for some interesting ice formations on the banks.
Temperatures hovering around zero in the Missouri River valley Friday created a frosty morning at Yankton's Riverside Park. Photo by John Andrews.
Happy Halloween! Today's pick is by Bernie Hunhoff. This spooky cat was his favorite tomcat on his farm north of Yankton.
The current warm weather has left South Dakota corn farmers with a difficult decision – harvest wet corn and pay drying expenses or hold off for a bit and try to allow corn to dry naturally in the field. This picture of a corn field was taken along the Jim River near Mission Hill. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.
It really feels like fall at the South Dakota Magazine headquarters today. This week's windy weather left lots of leaves on the Pennington House lawn. That's why we decided to share John Mitchell's
photo of the lovely fall colors at the Downstream Recreation Area near Oahe Dam in Fort Pierre.
Andy Ogan, Pierre, shared this photo of Wednesday morning's "blood moon" lunar eclipse behind the capitol dome. The moon passed into the darkest part of the Earth's shadow, causing its copper glow.
took this photo at Spearfish Canyon in the northern Black Hills last weekend. The limestone palisades in this creek-carved gulch are even older than the Grand Canyon. US Highway 14A winds through the canyon for nearly 20 miles.
Jason Haskell, Aberdeen, shared this photo from Grand River National Grassland south of Lemmon. The grassland is named for the Grand River, whose north and south forks meet there.
Our editor-at-large, Bernie Hunhoff, spotted this monarch butterfly just outside our offices yesterday. He'll soon fly an incredible 2,500 mile journey to the Oyamel fir forests in southern Mexico. Monarchs hibernate there in the winter, then fly north in the spring to lay eggs.
That’s Harney Peak off in the distance. Located in the Black Elk Wilderness area of Black Hills National Forest, it’s the highest natural point in South Dakota at 7,242 feet. An old stone tower that was used as a fire lookout is open to hikers at the summit. Photo by Kathryn Van Balen
shared this Wednesday night photo of the Oahe Dam intakes near Pierre. Lake Oahe is the fourth largest man-made reservoir in the U.S. and extends from Pierre to Bismarck, ND.
Happy Labor Day weekend! John Mitchell's
photo makes us think it might be a good holiday to go hiking. He shared this pic from Iron Creek Trail in Spearfish Canyon.
Happy Photo Friday! John Mitchell shared this photo from a sunflower field near Pierre. See more of his work at SoDakMoments
Yankton's 31st annual Riverboat Days begins today. It offers a little something for everyone – arts in the park, delicious food vendors, concerts, a kayak race, car show and more. This photo by Bernie Hunhoff is from the Kiddie Parade. For more information visit www.riverboatdays.com
, Pierre, shared this photo from Lake Oahe. "We were having some beautiful sunsets with the smoke from the fires in Canada a few weeks ago," Eich says.
It's almost time for yucca plants to start blooming! We love catching glimpses of these tropical beauties on the prairie. Photographer Candy Erk Manthey captured these West River yuccas.
Jennifer Fischer, Beresford, shared this photo of a bighorn sheep in Badlands National Park. "She walked up near me and then looked out over the vast, desolate but beautiful, landscape of the Badlands. It was an amazing moment," Fischer says. "This photo speaks to me about the beautiful place we call home and why we need these wild animals and wild places in our lives."
shared this photo of calm Missouri River waters near Pierre.
The windy summer of 2014 is both a blessing and a curse for sailors on the great lakes of the Missouri. This photo, taken on Lewis and Clark Lake, is by South Dakota Magazine editor Katie Hunhoff.
took this photo at Fort Pierre's fireworks display last year.
June storm clouds loom ominously north of Spearfish. Photo by Steve Hofmann.
Mark Warren shared this lovely rainbow arcing southwest of Rapid City in the Black Hills National Forest.
spotted this lone horse meandering after a storm north of Rapid City. Visit her exhibit at Eastbank Art Gallery in Sioux Falls through June 28th to see or purchase more of her work.
shared this photo of May's full Flower Moon over the Badlands. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac the Flower Moon, also called Mother's Moon and Corn Planting Moon, marks temperatures warm enough for safely bearing young, a near end to late frosts and plants in bloom.
A spring evening along the Missouri in Pierre. Photo by John Mitchell
shared this stunning view from Little Devil's Tower in Custer State Park.
shared this shot of the pink moon before full lunar eclipse on April 15. She captured this image at the Cheyenne River Ranch, where buffalo roam freely on thousands of acres of native grass.