Getaway to South Dakota



We took some days to visit Badlands National Park and the Black Hills National Forest in the State of South Dakota. We drove there from Chicagoland. For those who have never been in the United States, there are rest areas along the Interstates highways. They are located just off the road 30 to 60 miles apart from one another. They are public areas which were built to provide all the necessary services for the traveler: restrooms, snacks and refreshments, information, maps and also tables and seats for picnics. Some states decor their rest areas accordingly. One of the stops in Iowa had metal panels in the picnics areas cut to resemble the agricultural fields. It's art really. What caught my eye was how the negative space was used to create the landscapes, I thought  it was a perfect example of it  and I undertook the task to sketch 3 different landscapes.


When we crossed the state limit to South Dakota, most of the rest areas had monuments depicting tee pees, honoring the local Indians, according to the tourist guide in the rest area. I found that ironic, given the fact that the land was taken from Indians, but that's another story. The structure was impressive therefore I sketch it quickly.


Badlands is one of the underestimated National Parks. It's a very arid land that erodes rather quickly but it has a unique beauty. After hiking some hundred feet I sat down on a rock under the blasting sun, there are no trees whatsoever. Pencil was the only thing I could stand to do. I watercolor it later at the hotel. This sketch doesn't make it any justice, but here it is my attempt to capture these exceptional land.

The next two days we visited the Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park which is in the same area with same geographical characteristics. We drove scenic roads, drove through carved stone tunnels and pigtail bridges.The next sketch is the Scovel Johnson Tunnel in the Iron Mountain Road. This and the next sketch I did from pictures I took. The far end of the tunnel frames Mount Rushmore at far distance.


Also we watched wild animals, bison, commonly known as buffaloes, burros, pronghorn antelopes and lots of prairie dogs among them. 



We saw lakes and visited the Wind Cave, the second largest cave in the world and most intricate in the world. Our last stop was the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The facilities to accommodate millions of tourists each years has grown over the years. I sat among the crowd and made my last on location sketch of this trip.



South Dakota was unexpectedly beautiful! Back to home. I can't wait for my next sketching adventure, the 8th Urban Sketchers international Symposium in Chicago at the end of July. I hope to see you there!


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