Best of the Badlands

5 Days - Rapid City, SD
Jun 6 - Jun 10, 2023
Activity Level
Skill Level
All Levels


Registration deadline: May 1, 2023

Pay a deposit of $750.00 per item

Endless prairies, rugged peaks, layered rock formations, and a variety of wildlife are waiting to be captured during this South Dakota photography workshop.  Each day we will explore various Badlands National Park locations. Our days will begin at dawn to take advantage of the early morning light. Likewise, we will end each day’s activities at sunset. The lighting in the Badlands during the magic hours of sunrise and sunset casts a warm glow across the landscape.  Subtle hues of red, yellow, and tan become richer and the long shadows create stunning three-dimensional compositions.  Likewise, at dusk and dawn, animals are more active and easily located. We will reserve mid-days for rest, reflection, and image transfer. There will be a variety of photo opportunities including both spectacular scenery and plentiful wildlife.


Once the site of an ancient sea, the South Dakota Badlands have been transformed over thousands of years. Layers of sediment and ash were eroded away leaving behind multi-colored rocks and boulders balanced on pedestals of stone. Eroded canyons and isolated buttes stand as a testament to the power of nature. At first glance, the land seems sterile, yet close examination reveals a variety of photo opportunities. Agile bighorn sheep scale steep canyon walls. Pronghorn and bison graze on nutritious prairie grasses.


Join Sandy for an adventure in Badlands National Park surrounded by unusual geologic formations and her favorite wildlife haunts.  As an added bonus, we will begin the workshop with a few-hour walkabout in downtown Rapid City to capture interesting landmarks before heading into the Badlands.

Workshop includes:

  • Pre-workshop webinar
  • 4 nights of single-occupancy lodging
  • Round trip transportation from Rapid City, SD
  • Water, snacks, and group meal
  • Permits and entrance fees
  • Post-workshop critique

4-Day/3-Night Black Hills Optional Add-on

This Best of the Dakotas – Black Hills extension workshop is geared for the photographer who wishes to see more of western South Dakota and its many iconic locations. We’ll visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial as you have never seen it before. Fly over Crazy Horse Memorial, photograph local wildlife, shoot the city skyline and have a ‘hoot’ of a time.


Consider adding this extension after your workshop in Badlands National Park and before returning home.


Add-on includes:

  • 3 nights of single-occupancy lodging
  • Round trip transportation from Rapid City, SD
  • Helicopter tour over Crazy Horse Monument
  • Permits, entrance, and tour fees for Raptor Center, Reptile Garden, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument

Please be aware that the shooting locations stated in this itinerary may change. Locations may be changed best based on light and weather.  We want to give you the best photo opportunities possible.


A pre-workshop webinar will be scheduled a few weeks prior to departure.


Day 1 – Tuesday, June 6, 2023

  • Meet in the hotel lobby for a quick orientation then the group will depart for downtown Rapid City to photograph Art Alley, interesting architecture, and bronze statues of all the US Presidents.
  • Late morning, the group will return to the hotel and load gear to drive to Wall, SD.
  • Upon our arrival at Wall, we will take time to photograph the massive grain silos that run along the railroad tracks.
  • Our group will enjoy a welcome lunch at one of the town’s local establishments, after which folks will have an opportunity to peruse the famous city-block-long Wall Drug Store.

Day 2 – Wednesday, June 7, 2023

  • Depart Best Western parking predawn for the drive to our sunrise shoot
  • Travel to Badlands NP for sunrise, wildlife & points of interest – Unit 1, Loop Road
  • Break for lunch, post-processing & portfolio reviews
  • Depart the hotel late afternoon for a sunset shoot in Badlands National Park
  • Return to Wall approximately  late evening

Day 3 – Thursday, June 8, 2023

  • Depart Best Western predawn for a sunrise shoot
  • Travel to Badlands NP for sunrise, wildlife & points of interest – Unit 1, Sage Creek Road
  • Return late morning and break for downtime, downloading, and lunch
  • We will leave late afternoon for another sunset shoot in the park.
  • Travel to Badlands National Park for sunset photography
  • Return to Wall approximately late evening

Day 4 – Friday, June 9, 2023

  • Another early departure for our sunrise shoot in the Badlands.
  • Travel to Badlands NP for sunrise, wildlife & points of interest – Unit 1
  • Break for lunch, post-processing & portfolio reviews
  • Leave the hotel late afternoon for our travels
  • Travel to Badlands National Park for sunset photography
  • Return to Wall at approximately 9 PM

Day 5 – Saturday, June 10, 2023

  • Our last early departure for our final sunrise shoot
  • Travel to Badlands NP for sunrise, wildlife & points of interest – Unit 1
  • Return to the hotel and check out.
  • Return to Rapid City where the workshop adjourns mid-afternoon.

3-Day Black Hills Optional Add-on

Day 5  Continued – Saturday, June 10, 2023

  • Travel to Rapid City (from Wall) mid-afternoon for those extending after Badlands NP
  • Check into hotel
  • Evening shoot from Skyline Drive, sunset, city lights, and skyline views

Day 6 – Sunday, June 11, 2023

  • Morning shoot in Spearfish Canyon, waterfalls & wildlife
  • DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery
  • Break for a late lunch (linner)
  • The Evening Lighting Ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Day 3 – Monday, June 12, 2023

  • Morning visit to Canyon Lake for nesting herons, osprey, waterfowl
  • Visit the Reptile Gardens
  • Break for lunch
  • Helicopter tour of Crazy Horse

Day 4 – Tuesday, June 13, 2023

  • Morning shoot at Black Hills Raptor Center
  • Check out of the hotel
  • The workshop ends at noon

Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate

Shooting locations for this workshop will be close to the road in large, safe pullouts. If participants choose, they can travel on boardwalks and well-worn dirt trails to find their best composition. This workshop is suitable for participants with limited mobility.

Workshop Begins & Ends:

Hampton Inn & Suites Rapid City Rushmore
825 Eglin St Bldg A,
Rapid City, SD 57701
Tel: 605-341-1879


The workshop begins and ends at the Hampton Inn & Suites Rapid City Rushmore.  A courtesy block of rooms is available for the night prior on June 5th and on the day the workshop ends on June 10th.  This lodging is not included in your workshop fee.  You must contact the hotel directly to make your reservation.  Please book your reservations prior to May 1st to guarantee availability.  After that time, accommodations will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle service.


Lodging During the Workshop

Best Western Plains Motel
712 Glenn St
Wall, SD 57790
Phone: (605) 279-2145

Four nights are included in your workshop fee based on single occupancy.


Participants staying on for the Optional Black Hills Add-on will lodge at:

Hampton Inn & Suites Rapid City Rushmore
825 Eglin St Bldg A,
Rapid City, SD 57701
Tel: 605-341-1879

If you opt-in for the additional Black Hills add-on, three nights of single occupancy lodging is included in the fee.

Sandy Zelasko
Jeff Insel
Photo Guide
Ken Brown
Photo Guide

If you are concerned about the possibility of canceling your trip we urge you to protect your workshop investment and purchase travel insurance.  We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel insurance plan with a “Cancel for Any Reason” option. Many guests have last-minute injuries, emergencies, or life changes that can disrupt their plans only to wish they had a way to recoup their lost expenses.


There are a number of reputable companies that provide Travel Insurance.  For a listing of providers, you can visit  AHPS has partnered with TravelEx Insurance Services over the years and has found them to be reputable and offer comprehensive plans at competitive prices.  For more information visit or contact them at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 03-0147.  Travel Insurance is underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. W20


CANCELATION POLICY:  All cancelations must be in writing to

  • 91 days or more prior to the start of the workshop your deposit will be refunded less $250
  • 61-90 days your workshop fees will be refunded in the form of an AHPS Store Credit Voucher less $250 administrative fee. The remainder of the fees paid can be used toward a future workshop within 18 months of cancelation. The voucher is good for 18 months.
  • 60 days or less until departure – No refund.


If we are able to fill your seat and the workshop runs at full enrollment we will refund your workshop fees less the $100 processing fee.


This cancellation policy applies in every situation and there will be no exceptions made for any reason. We will not issue refunds for cancelations due to illness or late arrivals due to travel delays.


Arizona Highways PhotoScapes reserves the right to cancel or change any workshop if our minimum enrollment is not met or if situations beyond our control arise that may create unsafe or undesirable travel conditions.  Any cancelation or postponement as a result of situations beyond our control, AHPS does not promise any refunds or credits.  If and when feasible, we will attempt to reschedule the workshop at a later date.  Alternatively, we may decide to issue you credit for a future workshop, or issue a refund, less any non-refundable deposits we have paid to workshop providers on your behalf.

Please note that AHPS is not liable for any additional participant expenses incurred such as airfare, hotel accommodations, or any other components booked outside of the workshop.


PAYMENT TERMS:  A minimum deposit is due at registration to reserve your space.  Please refer to the specific workshop for the required deposit.  Final payments are due 90 days prior to departure.  Approximately 15 days prior to the due date you will receive a reminder email that your balance is coming due.   If final payments are not received by 70 days prior to your workshop, your registration is subject to forfeiture including all fees paid to date.


If registering within 90 days of your workshop, full payment is due at the time of registration.