custer state park

The following pictures provide a small slice of the wonder that is
Custer State Park.
After a morning at Mount Rushmore
we spent the rest of the day at this park.

If we return to the area I'd like to take time to explore Custer more,
especially the Sylvan Lake area at the bottom of the post.
Sylvan Lake has fishing, hiking and rock climbing
which would provide days of entertainment for all of us
(probably not the rock climbing for me and Ella, though).

The Wildlife Loop

Similar to the Badlands loop, 
Custer State Park has a loop that takes you around the entire park. 
The loop includes a wildlife drive and we were not disappointed
in seeing many buffalo, including babies, but I didn't get a good photo.

The Prairie Trail

I was hoping to hike somewhere in Custer and was not disappointed.
We hiked the 3-mile loop of the Prairie Trail.
It was beautiful, provided exercise and we did not come across any buffalo 
(ever in the back of my mind).
There was a steep ascent through open prairie
and then the return descent was through pines. 

For all the blooms I post from our own home
I barely notice them when we are on vacation,
but did capture a few on our walk.

Needles Highway

Once in the Black Hills all our driving was scenic.
However, my favorite drive was on Needles Highway
which is part of the Custer State Park loop.
I actually don't appreciate the drop offs of these narrow roads,
but I adored all the spires. 
This drive was at the end of our day,
meaning we were very tired,
so we didn't get out and explore,
but I really enjoyed the drive.

Sylvan Lake

This is the location aforementioned that I'd love to return to.
This area was so peaceful, yet the location would provide us with so much to do.
This stop was at the end of the day and we were getting cold
although clothed in fleece. 
We walked through the rocks behind the lake
(Roone enjoyed climbing), 
and watched birds, then headed out.
I read later that rock climbing classes are offered,
and we saw a couple fishing in the lake, decked out in waders even,
so the thought of returning here is in the back of my head.

South Dakota really wasn't on my list of places to vacation
until we began discussing visiting National Parks
and realized what an easy drive it would be. 
We were more than impressed by the area,
and now want to return.