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Black Hills Blues


This will be my last post about the Black Hills. Well, almost. Not that I don't have more I could share. The Black Hills and Custer State Park (CSP) have more than exceeded my expectations. I'm not sure why it doesn't get more press. Maybe the shadow of Mt. Rushmore and the spector of Yellowstone simply push CSP out of the minds of most. It shouldn't. If you haven't been here, you should come. I'm feeling blue because it's time to go.

CSP is not just the wildlife loop road. It has an amazing set of campgrounds and four impressive lodges. Pronghorn antelope roam the main park road with abandon. So close to us human visitors I wonder if they're not a glutton for photobombing. Even the occasional wayward buffalo comes wandering by camp. White-tailed deer try to stay incognito, but, then, it's like they're really not trying.

I set up camp on a hillside site in the Stockade Lake North campground within CSP. The best way to describe is simply to say this is why you go camping. The lodge pole pines were so tall they made my rig look like miniatures in my photos. A little slice of heaven to retire to in the evenings. In addition to the wildlife loop road, it made a perfect jumping off point for my excursions to the gorgeous Sylvan lake recreational area, the rock hewn tunnels of Needles and Iron Creek highways, and, yes, Mt. Rushmore a piece of cake.

I see why these Black Hills get their name. As you approach from the treeless high plains to the east, you're awash in burnt pastels of brown, yellow, orange, and even red, but, suddenly, dark hills of forest green, blue-greys, and shadows of black emerge to the west. At a mile high, I guess you've reached an elevation lodge pole pines prefer. But it's not all pine trees here in these hills.

The real signature of these Black Hills is the icey-gray granite monoliths that jut up from the forest floor everywhere you look. The roads yield their path to these impassable massives but for the tunnels Peter Norbeck and his contemporaries carved through for our scenic pleasure. I wasn't fortunate enough to spot the denizens of these rocky slopes, Big Horn sheep. Maybe next time.

New Hampshire may be the granite state and, I myself, having driven to the peak of famed Mt. Washington, wouldn't disagree. But the Black Hills are its first cousin for sure. Maybe a sibling.

On my last day I finally found the burros! For those of you who dont know, a burro is a donkey. These burros are wild and a ranger told me it can be hard to predict where they'll show their faces. But when they do, let me tell you, boy are they cute! One good looking fellow shoved his whole head in my car searching for something good to eat. I was able snap a picture just before he retreated in disappointment.

Yep, CSP and the Black Hills need to be on your shortlist of vacation destinations. Whether you prefer camping by tent, RV, or luxury lodge, or even staying in one of the countless roadside motels in the towns outside the park, these hills have more to offer than you can imagine.








Posted by TheSilverback 19:13 Archived in USA Tagged hills wildlife park travel black camping state custer

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That burro is a riot! Totally seems he's posing for the pic, and that smile... LOL

by OBDawe_Kenobi

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