Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

America's Great Plains

 Mount Rushmore - the Black Hills are last mounds of earth before hitting the vast plains that make up this part of North America.


Most people look at the great plains of North America as a place to zoom through with only rest stops!  I used to think the same way until I started spending some more time in the region at such places as Badlands National Park and Roosevelt National Park in the Dakotas.  These represent some of the last remaining remnants of a once vast grassland that covered at least a quarter of North America


Please take a look at our North America Image Galleries!

Rocky Mountain & Great Plains Landscapes Image Gallery


The images in this page represent some of my travels in such places as the parks mentioned above as well as Devil’s Tower National Monument, Chimney Rock Historic Site, Badlands National Park and other destinations.




The Badlands National Park in South Dakota has always been a must-stop spot for me when traveling through the Great Plains. 



Northern White-tailed Deer are seen here graizing in Badlands National Park.



The Badlands




North American Pronghorned Antelope are some of the more common critters seen in the Great Plains.  Many are seen still wild in areas outside the national parks and reserves.



Known to be the fastest animal in North America, I paced this Pronghorn at about 45 mph!



North American Bison were once common but now are pretty much relegated to private ranches and a few reserves in the Great Plains.  These were photographed near our campgrounds in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.



These Wild Ferral Mules were photographed playing in the dust of Custer State Park in South Dakota.



Nebraska's Chimney Rock National Historic Site is home some great examples of the prairie habitat that was once so wide spread that one would have to travel days to see the end of it.  Now the remnant ecosystems are basically limited to the parks and reserves and are still filled with invasive species.



Well at least this is a picture of "grasses" still growing in the Great Plain's Grasslands....



What's cool about the grassland is that there is more to it than simple grasses and forbs.  This Yucca is a native plant that is now very endangered.



Although their numbers are drastically reduced, Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are still fairly common in parts of the Great Plains of North America.  This one was photographed in Custer State Park in South Dakota.



A Black-tailed Prairie Dog coming up for a snack in Devil's Tower National Park, Wyoming.




This White-talied Prairie Dog was photographed in the grasslands of Dinosaur National Monument in eastern Utah. 



This White Pelican was photographed next to my kayak in Flaming Gorge Reservior in southern Wyoming.  White Pelicans are fairly common still in the Great Plains.



Devil's Tower National Monument is one of my favorite stops in the region.  Seeing this massive columnar basalt core towering above the flatlands is an impressive site for sure!