Saturday, October 21, 2017

A few days in Custer, South Dakota

Monday (10/16) to Friday (10/20):

On Monday we made the short drive south on Highway 385 from Spearfish to Custer, South Dakota. We pulled into our campground for the next few days, Beaver Lake Campground, and were assigned to Site O. This is a campground with about 100 spaces located 3 miles west of Custer.

After getting set up in the campground we drove into Custer and went to the Visitor's Center to gather information about the area. A very nice gentleman gave us lots of hints about what to see and how to see it during the three days we have here in the area. We walked the downtown area and then took a short hike up one of the hills that overlooks the town.

We also visited one of the local sports bars, the Bunglin Buck, and enjoyed a tasting of micro-brewed beers from Sheridan, Wyoming. The bar had a trophy size elk bust mounted to one of the walls behind the bartender area.

Tuesday morning we drove over to Custer State Park which is located a few miles east of town. We had a hike we wanted to do along with visiting the park.

We went to the Visitor's Center, visited with one of the volunteers about the park, purchased our pass and then watched a 22 minute movie about the park narrated by Kevin Costner. He had filmed the movie "Dancing with Wolves" in South Dakota and Wyoming (most of it around the Rapid City & Pierre area) and fell in love with this part of the country. From the Visitor's Center we drove about a mile to the trailhead for our walk, the Grace Coolidge Walk-In Fishing Area. From the trailhead we walked about 3.2 miles to Center Lake where we ate a picnic lunch we had packed in. After lunch we made the return hike along the trail back to the Jeep for a total of 6.4 miles.

After completing our hike we drove the Wildlife Loop Road in the park. The park is home to 1,300 bison which we saw all along the route. We also saw wild turkey, pronghorn, deer, prairie dogs and burros. The burros stand in the middle of the road and come right up to your car window. As we exited their area in the park we saw two open Jeep Wagon tour vehicles that the burros must have been waiting on. The tours probably pass by at the same time each day and the burros "know" their schedules.

Wednesday we drove two of the most scenic drives in America: the Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway. Both of these drives are located in the Black Hills a few miles apart. The Iron Mountain Road takes you north from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore. There are three one lane tunnels you have to pass through on the road. As you exit the last two of these tunnels you have views of the monuments at Mount Rushmore.

We stopped at Sylvan Lake and took a short hike around the lake after which we had our picnic lunch.

After finishing our lunch we drove the Needles Highway. The rock formations along this highway are some of the most spectacular we have ever seen. There are also several one lane tunnels located along this highway. The high point is an area called the Needles Center with the Needles Eye rock.

On Thursday we drove over to Hill City to see the town and visited a couple of breweries in the area. Hill City is the second oldest town in the Black Hills (after Deadwood). We walked around the downtown area and then headed out to visit the breweries which are located a few miles north of town.

We sampled beers at both the Sick-N-Twisted Brewing Company and Miner Brewing Company. At both breweries we like one of the beers but not the other ones we tried. We seemed to like the brews along the east coast a lot more than the ones west of the Mississippi.

We drove back to the campground, began the processing of packing up and got ready to head out early Friday to North Platte, Nebraska.

If you want to see more pictures, CLICK HERE.