Sunday, July 19, 2009
Custer State Park
Custer State Park is a 71000 acre park displaying many of the natural attributes of South Dakota including beautiful scenery - grasslands, forests and rolling hills and plenty of wildlife. There is a multitude of facilities including campgrounds, lodges, rental cabins, lakes, hiking, rock climbing and much more.
In addition to the main paved roads thru the park where you can see most of the wildlife, there are a number of dirt roads that get you much closer to wildlife and a better feel for the natural beauty of the area.
We traveled several of these back roads and at one point actually ended up in the Cave of the Winds National Park. We particularly enjoyed finding several of the lone buffalo bulls that remain aloft from the main herd of 1400 plus buffalo.
We also came across a number of prairie dog towns, where there were literally thousands of these creatures. You need to be careful walking in these areas as there are lots if rattlesnakes here that feed on the smaller inhabitants. As we were considering hiking into the grassland areas, there was a group of National Park workers coming our way. We noticed that they all were wearing leg protectors against rattlers. When we discussed this with them, they mentioned that today was the first day in quite awhile that they had not encountered any rattlers. We decided to skip the walk.
One of the main attractions of the park is the needles scenic drive that takes you areas where the prominent rock formations indeed resemble needles (with some imagination.)
This is another must see attraction to any visit to South Dakota.
On the way back to the campground we drove by the Crazy Horse Memorial. We visited the site 23 years ago and thought to see how things were progressing. As we drove up, we saw a great deal of change to the fee collection part of the place and many tourist gift shop improvements, but the actually carving on the mountain was not substantially changed in the 23 years. We decided to forgo a visit, as it appears they are now more interested in separating you and your money more than completing the memorial.