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Wild Horses of the North Dakota Badlands

The North Dakota Badlands are as rugged and unchanged as the days when Theodore Roosevelt first set foot here. Roosevelt took a stage coach as far west as he could at the time and the line that he was on ended in Medora, North Dakota. Stepping out of the coach and into a dry and dusty moonscape that is the badlands, he was instantly consumed by the raw beauty of the place – so much so that he quickly set about purchasing a ranch in the area that would serve as his retreat in the West for decades to come. 

Today, these badlands are delicately managed by the park service to keep the landscape as it was in Roosevelt’s day. Wild horses, bison, elk, mule deer, coyotes, prairie dogs, and jaw dropping scenery abounds here. This is the West – with a mandatory capital W. Although the primary focus of this workshop will be on the gorgeously colored wild horses that eke out a living here, the rest of this western menagerie of wildlife will also find time before our lenses. 

If you like horses and all things West, then you will not want to miss this workshop!

Workshop Details

Cost: $3400

Deposit: $1000

Dates: September 29 – October 5

Limited to: 5 participants

Lodging: All lodging is included with the price of this trip

Meals: meals are not included

Transportation: You will need to make arrangements to get to Medora, ND. Transportation from there is provided for the duration of the workshop. 

Skill Level: beginner – advanced

Physical Difficulty: easy

Airports: Bismark, ND (BIS). This airport services Delta, United, American, and Frontier. 

What to Expect

  • 5 full days of hands on in the field instruction and guiding
  • all lodging to be arranged for the duration of the workshop
  • wild horses, bison, elk, and a whole lot more
  • a blind group critique at the end of the workshop
  • one on one reviews
  • opportunities for Photoshop and Lightroom instruction
  • a whole lot of dust and a heck of a great time!

Day 1: Fly into Bismark, ND and drive / carpool to the town of Medora. We will meet that evening at 5pm for dinner and the workshop’s official meet and great

Day 2-6: Field photography. Each day will be divided into two shoots. The morning shoot will consist of us venturing into the park before sunrise in search of wild horses and other wildlife. We will stay in the field and continue to shoot until around 11am or depending upon light / weather. Afterwords we will head back into town for lunch and a midday break for folks. This break will give you the opportunity to download photos, recharge batteries, and / or catch a nap. Our midday breaks will also give us the chance to have group discussions and classroom sessions. After our break, we will return to the field and photograph until dark. Once the sun goes down, we will return to Medora for dinner. One night, if the weather is right and the group is up for it, we will do some night photography to capture the Milky Way over the badlands. On the last evening, we will have our group blind critique and a pizza party.

Day 7: Drive back to Bismark to catch flights home. 

What will the temperatures be like?

This workshop is in the desert of North Dakota. Highs this time of the year will be in the 60s and lows in the 30s. You will want to bring clothes for brisk mornings and comfortable afternoons. It does get windy here at times so bring a jacket.

How many wild horses are there?

The national park maintains a population of 150 wild horses on the Southern Unit of the park. These are then divided up into various harems and bands that can range from solitary bachelor stallions, to large bands number 15 or more. 

What lenses will I need to bring?

You will want a long telephoto lens for this workshop. This means something that will reach out to a minimum of 400mm. I bring along a 600mm and a 200-400mm lens on this workshop. The 600 is for tight portraits and long distance shots. The 200-400 is for close range and environmental portraits. 

A medium telephoto lens such as a 70-200mm and a wide angle zoom like the 24-70 is also recommended for this workshop

What about tripods?

Yes you will! Tripods are crucially important in wildlife photography and on this workshop you will need one. Though there may be times that we hand hold our lenses, in most instances we will want to properly stabilize our equipment. 

For wildlife photographers, as a general rule of thumb, you want a tripod with a load capacity that is twice the amount of weight that you will put on it. So, you were to estimate that the tripod head weights 5lbs, your camera body weighs 5lbs, you biggest lens weighs 12 lbs, this is 22 lbs total. And therefore, we recommend you have a tripod that can hold a minimum of 44lbs. Most likely you will need to round up to 50lbs for this. 

Another rule of thumb for wildlife photographers is to work with a tripod that DOES NOT come with a center column. There are thousands of reasons you will want to get lower with your gear. But, there is rarely any reason you want to get taller. Thus, a tripod without a center column will allow you to get your camera all the way down to the ground – which is critically important in many situations. 

For more information about Jared’s suggestion for tripods, click this link: TRIPOD PRIMER

For more information about Jared’s suggestion for heads, click this link: TRIPOD HEAD PRIMER

What time do I need to arrive in Medora?

Plan to arrive by 5pm in Medora, ND. We will meet in the hotel lobby at 5:30 and then go to dinner as a group from there. 

What will the first and last days be like?

The first and last dates that we post with each workshop are set aside strictly for travel. This means that we will not photograph together on these days unless the workshop states otherwise.

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Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding this or any other workshop that we offer. To the left, you will find a simple contact form in place to make this process as simple as possible for you. We realize however that sometimes these sorts of onsite forms are difficult to work with when more lengthy questions and comments are necessary. Therefore, below you will also find the appropriate email and phone number.

e: jared at jaredlloydphoto dot com

c: 406-600-2047

Travel insurance

Fact: flights get canceled, airlines overbook, snow storms shut down airports, family members get sick, doctors occasionally deliver unexpected news. Life is what happens as we are busy making plans. John Lennon said that, and it’s about as true of a statement that can be made when it comes to travel.

The recent loss of power to Delta’s systems that led to the grounding and cancellation of thousands of flights drives home this point. With so many variables and possibilities out there that cannot be foreseen or planned for, we highly recommend purchasing trip insurance for this workshop. The costs are surprisingly low and well worth the small expense. Trip insurance gives you peace of mind and allows you to know that if one of those little inevitabilities in life happens to pop up, you will not lose your money spent on your workshop and flights.

CSA and Travel Guard are the two big ones out there. But you can get instant comparative quotes through