When It Rains in Rapid City

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Coming to Rapid City for the first time, I had some high expectations for my experience. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had some plans of her own that I wasn’t consulted on.

A light rain that was generally just a mist was almost constantly present for the two days I was in Rapid City. But the worst part was that the rain brought cloud cover and low-hanging fog that never left.

As a photographer, that kind of setting can offer some fun, moody shots to take but it will completely ruin vistas and really anything more than 20-50 feet away. So when the main highlights of your trip are Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park, this poses a bit of a problem.

Spoiler alert: I still had an amazing time and found it to be a fantastic place to visit.

So what do you do when the weather turns on you?

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You Improvise

There’s a saying that sums up my trip succinctly: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

We can’t always have perfect weather, and it’s obviously outside of our control. I would know—I tried all the positive thinking I could generate. No effect. So it was time to adapt and try something different that current parameters would permit.

I knew from personal experience that waterfalls only get better with rain, so it was time to find out what my waterfall options were. I lucked out when I found a place near Rapid City called Spearfish Canyon that offers several gorgeous waterfalls. I ended up only having time to hunt down one of them, but it was worth the extra hour of driving.

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You Keep Trying

Just because I didn’t end up ever seeing the faces on Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, or the overlooks in the Badlands, it didn’t stop me from trying multiple times. The fog was like a leech on the area, latched on with everything it could muster. It wouldn’t lift, but I kept trying the highlights because it was something within my control—how hard I tried to make things work. Other opportunities for photographs opened up because I kept trying and was out there searching for them. Giving up guarantees you won’t get anything out of it.

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You Choose A Good Attitude

It’s so easy to be angry and frustrated with bad luck. You can do everything right and still be hosed, so those feeling are natural and understandable. But if you actually want to enjoy your trip, you have to choose to have a good attitude and keep trying to have fun. It’s not the natural response for me—I have to actively fight against that response. But there was still great food to eat in Rapid City. There were still waterfalls to chase. There were still jokes to be told and laughs to be had with the people accompanying me on my trip. Sometimes fun is right within reach; you just have to extend your hand and grab it.

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