Posts Tagged With: sylvan lake

Custer State Park and Mt. Rushmore

After leaving Montana and Wyoming we headed east to South Dakota and stayed at Custer State Park.  This park was amazing!  We all agree it should be a national park.  It’s a very big park with several different areas and campgrounds.  It’s definitely one of the coolest state parks we have been to.  I was very thankful to get a campsite there as they start taking reservations a year in advance, but I didn’t know we would be going there until about 3 months in advance.

We had lots of excitement at our campsite every day as bison came walking through.  We’re always told to never approach or go near the wildlife, but we couldn’t really help the fact that these bison were always grazing right in our campsite.  Sometimes we would be sitting outside and look up to find a bison just a few feet away!

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Fat Cat was pretty scared of these things.  She wanted to run back in the house anytime she saw one.  I think she realized this animal was much too large for her to mess with.  She liked to watch from the safety of indoors.

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We visited 3 different areas of this park.  First was a driving tour of the Wildlife Loop.  We saw some pronghorn sheep and bison on this loop, but honestly we thought the wildlife sightings back at our campsite were a lot more interesting.

The next evening we drove the Needles Highway.  This was an amazing drive with spectacular scenery of these tall rock formations.  I had read about this highway beforehand that mentioned 3 tunnels we would have to drive through.  The tunnels are very narrow and only one vehicle can fit through at a time.  As you know, our vehicle is rather large and we weren’t sure if we should do this drive.  The Needles Eye Tunnel is only 8’4″ wide and our truck is about 7’10” wide.  But we did it!  Chris is such a good driver. 🙂

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Needles Eye Tunnel – I can’t believe we drove through this!

We hiked to the Cathedral Spires which was a beautiful hike.

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Then we drove to Sylvan Lake and walked the 1 mile loop around the lake.  This was a such a fun hike because there are so many rocks to climb on!

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There were also a couple of narrow passageways to walk through.

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I really loved how the rocks reflected in the water like a mirror.

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The next evening we drove the scenic Iron Mountain Road to go visit Mt. Rushmore.  This road also had some tunnels, but not nearly as narrow as the Needles Highway.  As we drove through the last tunnel, we could see the president’s heads in the distance.

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Mt. Rushmore is one of those iconic landmarks that is a “must see” on any American road trip.

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All 50 state flags are on this walkway.

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The boys earned their Mt. Rushmore Junior Ranger badges.

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Before we started traveling like this, I had never really given the state of South Dakota much thought.  I had no idea it is such a beautiful state with so many awesome things to do.  We visited Badlands National Park next, but I will save that for my next post.  Cheers!

Categories: National Parks, South Dakota | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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