Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Black Hills of SD.

We had decided during the planning stages of the trip to stay two nights at Custer State Park in South Dakota. This would give us a chance to rest during the long drive, and for Carole to see Mount Rushmore. I wasn't that high on seeing Rushmore, but Carole has always wanted to see it, so it was on the list of stops. Now that I have seen it, I am very glad that we did take the time to go. This is the way it usually is with places Carole wants to see--initially I am either reluctant to see them, or only mildly interested. But like other National Monuments, this one was spectacular, educational, and inspirational.

The biggest reason I am glad that we stopped at Custer is because it's the only place we got a chance to see big animals. Bighorn sheep, bison, mule deer, elk, mountain goats. Custer doesn't have bears, though. The big predator in the park is the mountain lion which a ranger told us is fairly common; but we didn't spot one.

Custer State Park straddles the highest of the Black Hills, which is a pretty darned impressive mountain range. The highest summit in the Black Hills (Harney Peak) is in the park (it's also the highest peak in South Dakota). So the terrain was a lot more rugged and imposing than I had figured it would be. The weather was unseasonably cool while we were there. It rained heavily during our entire journey through the state, so we figured we'd see a lot of rain in Glacier National Park, also. Alas, it was not to be. The rain we experienced in South Dakota would have completely extinguished the fires in Montana. Alas!

We would all like to return to Custer for an extended stay--maybe a week or so. That way I could see more wildlife and could have the time to hike some of the many miles of trails in the park.

More Black Hills photos and details tomorrow...

As soon as we entered the park, there was a bison jam. Traffic stopped for the big critters. Most of these seemed to be licking the mud along the roadside. I will assume that there is salt residue there from spreading of road salt during winter storms.
Our campsite at Custer. Power hookups, but not for water. They had bathhouses with hot showers. Andy forgot to completely zip up the door to his tent and during the night when a rainstorm struck he had to come inside and sleep in the trailer.
The bison herd in Custer State Park is at about 1300 animals.

We spotted pronghorn, also.

Andy in a cave from which a big spring emerges.

The aptly named Needles. This is where it was first proposed that the carvings that eventually became Mount Rushomore should be built. I'm glad this area was spared.

There are two tunnels like this in the park. This is why you have to be careful which roads you use if pulling a travel trailer or driving a big motorhome.

"What you lookin' at, human?"
A baby Mountain goat with its mother.

Continued tomorrow....

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