The Black Hills in South Dakota were so beautiful. I was glad that we were able to explore them for a couple of days. I found out that the Black Hills (which look very green when you are in them) were named because they look black from a distance. Interesting, I thought.
The other interesting thing we saw was all the little piles of wood and brush. They were everywhere. Finally we found out that all the piles were made to clean up downed trees and brush that are potential fire hazards. Then in the winter they would burn up the piles.
Here is a list of the other fun things we did while in the Black Hills.
1. Custer State Park--We would have liked to camp at one of the campgrounds in Custer State Park but we froze the night before (it got down in the upper 30's) so we didn't. While in Custer State park we drove the Needles Highway (SD 87) and it was AMAZING (well, my kids didn't think it was quite as fun as I did). The rock formations were fascinating.
Notice my children at the bottom of this picture of the Needles Eye for size reference.
There were some really neat tunnels that we got to drive through. At this tunnel we got out and climbed around on the rocks a bit. It was so much fun to explore the nooks and crannies of these rocks.
The highway is not many miles but it takes a while to drive. It is very twisty and curvy and very beautiful. There is something gorgeous to look at around every corner.
We also drove on the Wildlife Loop Road. This drive was more on the plains but still interesting. While driving on the road we saw a few buffalo but not as many as I wanted to see and they were quite far off. We kept hearing how plentiful the buffalo were and I really wanted to see some. We also came across a donkey at the side of the road. He was quite cute.
As we were leaving the park I finally got to see a LOT of buffalo. There was tons of them and they ran right across the road in front of our car. It was GREAT!
After all of the buffalo passed us we kept driving and were able to see the exact path they took. It was really cool to see the trodden ground. Such little things can fascinate me.
2. Highway 16A--We drove this road up to Keystone. There is some awesome tunnels on this road. I love tunnels. They are so much fun. I loved that these tunnels were one lane so there was some element of danger. One tunnel framed Mt. Rushmore. Much to my husbands dismay (he got pretty exhausted driving on all the curvy roads) we drove this road a few times because I loved going through the tunnels. He is so wonderful to put up with my craziness.
We ate dinner at a new sandwich place in Keystone and then we drove on to Rapid City. I know that Rapid City isn't technically in the Black Hills but I am going to add the stuff we did in Rapid City to this post.
3. Storybook Island--In Rapid City, SD. My kids loved this stop. They really appreciated being able to run and play after a long day of driving. Storybook Island is a large playground with all the things to play on based on storybook characters.
I was amazed at all the fun details in this park and it was free (you could give a donation). My kids could have played here all day.
4. Thunderhead Falls--10 miles west of Rapid City, SD. We were told in Keystone that this was something we shouldn't miss. The area getting to and around Thunderhead Falls is beautiful. Thunderhead Falls is a pretty tall waterfall that is inside a cave. The cave was fun to walk through. We saw some interesting mining remains and how different minerals showed up as different colors in the rock. The actual falls weren't that fantastic. We could really only see the last 10-15 feet of the waterfall. The noise of the falls inside the cave was kind of fun. So, this is one attraction that had its good points but we could have missed it.
5. Chapel in the Hills--In Rapid City, SD. This stop was an afterthought. We passed the sign for it on the way to Thunderhead Falls. The picture on the sign looked fascinating so I thought we should check it out.The chapel itself is an exact reproduction of the famous Borgund Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway. The architecture was gorgeous! It was beautiful inside and out. They actually have services in the chapel. Unfortunately, we weren't there at the right time. They also have a small museum showcasing items brought over from Norway or made by Norwegians here in the 1800's.
Boy, we sure were busy on our trip. I think that I have blocked some of the craziness out. My next Road Trip post will bring you more things we saw in South Dakota.
Thank you so much for stopping by. Have a great day!
Until next time...
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