Wildlife is the Best

Custer State ParkWe thought a week in the Black Hills would be enough time to see all the sights that were of interest to us, and although we touched on the ones at the top of our list, we could have easily spent another week exploring.

Hubby and I were both curious about the towns located at the northern end of the Black Hills:  Deadwood, Sturgis, and Spearfish.  As we embarked on a scenic drive, our first stop was a quick drive through Sturgis; famed for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  Not our thing, but we were curious.  I’m sure this place can get really crazy during the cycle rally.  During our excursion, it appeared to be just another small town with a twist; businesses geared toward motorcycles.

Bear Butte State Park

Bear Mountain is sacred to many American Indian tribes who come here to hold religious practices

While in the area, we checked out Bear Butte State Park and its sacred mountain.

It was then on to Spearfish where we took the Spearfish Canyon National Scenic Byway.  Twisting and turning through towering limestone cliffs, along mountain streams and waterfalls, the drive was reminiscent of Boulder Canyon in Colorado and very pretty.  We didn’t stop much for photos as our bellies were growling which kept us focused on rolling.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Main Street, Deadwood, South Dakota

We arrived in Deadwood, South Dakota, just in time for lunch.  Hubby and I were really curious about Deadwood and this was the focus of todays drive.  We’ve watched the complete series of the HBO production Deadwood ….. a couple of times, which was the catalyst that piqued our interest in laying eyes on this historic town.   The series tried to stay true to history with a little Hollywood thrown in for amusement.

We ate lunch at Diamond Lil’s located inside the Midnight Star Casino and owned by Kevin Costner.

Diamond Lil's

The place is adorned with costumes from Kevin Costner films. Even Whitney Houston’s costume from “Body Guard” was hanging in the place. The wall décor provided a level of entertainment.

The food at Diamond Lil’s was average, but the walls decorated with movie costumes made it interesting.  Gaming in little casinos, average food, tourist attractions playing off of the Wild Bill Hickok days, and plenty of cigarette smoke sums up my take on Deadwood.  I can check Deadwood off my list with no compulsion to revisit!

Pactola Reservoir

Pactola Lake, west of Rapid City, South Dakota

On our way back to Rapid City, we stopped by Pactola Reservoir and fell in love with this picturesque lake.  It reminded us of the many lakes we enjoyed paddling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota; surrounded by granite rock and pine trees….. pristine and beautiful.

The next day found us returning to Custer State Park and meandering some of the scenic byways around this part of the Black Hills…. again!

mountain goats

mountain goats along side the road

mountain goats

Which one do you want?

mountain goats

Is there anything better than coming across wildlife when you least expect it?  How cute are these mountain goats?  Wildlife is the best!

mountain goats

“I know, I’m cute, but you can’t take me home”!

I could’ve sat there watching these agile hikers for hours, but lunch was calling.  We’d heard Custer, South Dakota restaurantsfrom a couple of bloggers that the Black Hills Burger & Bun was the place to have lunch in the town of Custer, and boy, it did NOT disappoint.

The food was delicious and we wanted to go back on another day before we left town, but they closed for a few days for some much-needed time off.  They grind their own meat daily and everything was very fresh.  Hubby had the bison burger while I enjoyed Angus.  Seriously, for anyone looking for a great meal while visiting the Black Hills, this is the place to go.  FYI – it is a busy place, for obvious reasons.

scenic byways

The scenic byways are a main attraction to the Black Hills

Sylvan LakeOur last day in the Black Hills had me longing to go back to Sylvan Lake just one more time.  We met fellow blogger, Lenore, and her beautiful Golden Retriever, Honey, for a stroll around the lake and a picnic lunch.  We had a lovely visit and the weather was perfect.

Our time in South Dakota’s Black Hills went by way too fast.  I know we’ll need to return for further explorations.

Sylvan Lake

above the damn at Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake

Al and I at Sylvan Lake

George WashingtonA few of the things that hubby and I didn’t get around to doing that daughter and I did do……

No visit to the Black Hills would be complete without a visit to Mount Rushmore.  After all, it is the American thing to do, isn’t it  🙂

Be sure and stroll this memorial leisurely and take in some of the displays sharing the model and the history of this spectacular sculpture.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse Memorial in the distance

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse is another monument not to be missed.  Once complete, this sculpture will be the largest mountain carving in the world.

Daughter - Harney Peak hike

Daughter – Harney Peak hike

Black Hills hikingAnd then there’s the fabulous hiking in the area.  When Ashton and I visited, my hiking abilities at the time consisted of the necessary walking required in a super Wal-Mart or Mall.  I was twenty pounds heavier than I am now and called a workaholic by my children.  The thought of hiking a 7 mile round trip trail with something like a 1,000 foot plus elevation gain was beyond my thoughts….. AND abilities.

Ashton and I started our Harney Peak hike via the less popular trailhead off Needles Highway and quickly took a wrong turn which lead to us enjoying the view of the Cathedral Spires before retracing our steps and taking the correct turn.  This of course added a little distance and a few chuckles to the day.Black Hills hikingThe hike took us about 4 hours, which included some hanging around time at the top.  Upon our return to the trailhead, I was exhausted, but felt incredibly alive.  I hadn’t felt that way in years and I credit this hike with sparking the hiking bug within me.  Even though I was so sore and moaned with each step taken the following day, I looked forward to embarking on my next hike.Black Hills, South DakotaSo that about wraps up our time in the Black Hills.  Next up, we move down into Nebraska.Longhorn

Deadwood: The Complete Series
Merrell Men’s Moab Waterproof Hiking Shoe, Sedona Sage, 12 M US

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74 thoughts on “Wildlife is the Best

  1. So awesome that you came across mountains goats, and so close! When we ever see them around here they are just white dots up in the mountain side.

    • Yes, this was lucky to see the goats right there on the road. In Colorado it was always hit and miss and like you said, usually too far away. I was thrilled 🙂

  2. We visited many of the same places recently! The Spearfish Canyon National Scenic Byway has been one of my favorite drives during this nearly four month trip in our RV. I’d like to go back!

  3. Ingrid…I can’t understand why I haven’t received any notices of your posting. I thought you two were taking a sabbatical until I saw a comment you left on Lu Ann’s blog. I am sorry that I have missed so many of your adventures.

    We loved that area. I think hiking Harney Peak was our biggest accomplishment. Y’all have ad a fantastic time. The best part is being able to share it with Ashton

    • Hello Marsha. I’m not sure if Blogger and WordPress are having a behind the scenes battle. I can’t comment on your blog at all and on other blogspots I’ve had to use my Google address. Always nice to hear from you and we have been having a fun summer.

  4. Laughed when you talked about the difference between being in Deadwood and the Reservoir…. The older I get the less I want to do with cities. We’re itching at the seams to get on the road again but I fear we aren’t even 1/2 way through or confinement (so it feels) here in Milwaukee. I was sorry to cancel out our volunteer gig for this winter but right now a chance to just wander for a few months sounds really really good.
    Love the mountain goats!

    • Yeah, I was sad to hear you canceled the gig at Basque del Apache. I was looking forward to your photos although now you’ll just need to surprise us all on where you’ve decided to go for the winter. Hope that frig situation gets resolved soon so you can hit the road.
      Those goats were the cutest!!!

      • Ingrid — the frustrating part of the Norcold is that at the moment the fridge is COOLING better than it has since we got the coach — not knowing if we should cancel the refrigerator and try to nurse it through till spring or what. We’re interested too in seeing where we end up this winter.
        🙂

        • How frustrating. I know you’ve been dealing with this since Galveston…. coming up on a year. Good luck with whatever you decide and let me know if you need any suggestions for AZ (IF you head that way)

    • I didn’t even realize the Black Hills had mountain goats. So this encounter was VERY awesome. I know we’ll return to the Black Hills and then head on over to Devil’s Tower. I remember well your photo taken there. Seems like a must see stop.

  5. Those mountain goats are adorable! We still haven’t seen them, except at a distance. I appreciate you culling out the towns that we can bypass, because there are just too darned many on our “must see” list as it is! 🙂

    • This was my second time enjoying these adorable goats at a close distance. First was at Mt. Evans in Colorado. In the Black Hills we actually had to stop as they were in the middle of the road. Fortunately they didn’t block traffic too long. Definitely my kind of encounter 🙂

  6. Deadwood may have been a bit disappointing by the sounds of it, but at least Deadwood Main Street looks the part, especially the Steakhouse Salon sign with a buffalo on it.

    • I’m sure there are some fun and interesting things to see and do in Deadwood. But due to the cigarette smoke (I recently recovered from an illness) we weren’t interested in hanging around and exploring. The architecture and general history is worthwhile though.

  7. I never tire of reading about peoples Black Hills adventures! We love Custer, Spearfish Canyon and Harney Peak. We have never hiked up it but we did ride our horses up there several years ago.

    • The Black Hills is beautiful and I can imagine horseback riding in that terrain would be awesome. We might have to give that a try on our next time through.

  8. Aren’t those mountain goats cute ! I love that picture of Al asking you which one you want! And I think you are really looking very healthy 🙂
    I was really surprised of the many things to do in the Black Hills, who knows we too might be back for more.

    • I know, those goats are so darn adorable. My health is much better, but still struggling with energy. No more coughing, thank goodness. Can’t wait to get back on the trails….. Superstitions in a couple of weeks. So glad you were able to hit up some top places in Colorado and look forward to your posts.

  9. Love those mountain goats and Sylvan Lake. Next time we go I want to do the Spires hike!

    We did uber driving and not much hiking (just short waterfall hikes). We also made a big loop sand went to Spearfish, Deadwood, and Lead. We even made it to the Minuteman Missile Site in South Dakota on a separate day trip!

    • You would enjoy the Harney Peak hike but obviously need the time to do it. There’s so many great trails around the area. We did a lot of driving ourselves during this visit. Next time, less driving, more hiking.

  10. Go ahead and tell us what you think of Deadwood :-). We didn’t make it to Spearfish but it looks interesting and you did great running upon the mountain goats. Even though we only drove by Sylvan Lake a couple of times, I totally understand the draw as it is a gorgeous spot.

    • It’s too bad I’m so shy, huh! 😉 I’m sure Deadwood would be a fun place to spend more time and explore, but during our visit there were so many folks on the sidewalks smoking that we had to leave, especially with the health issues I’ve overcome lately. Love, love, love Sylvan Lake and am already looking forward to our next visit. It was great meeting you guys!

    • I have to send my dad some updated photos of Crazy Horse for him to compare with our photo from the 1970’s. It’s a fascinating work of art that ‘might’ be complete in fifty years. Those goats were indeed so adorable 🙂

  11. I am feeling like i am on the journey with you Ingrid. Thank you for getting me away from the cigarette smoke! Your photos of the mountains goats are fabulous especially the little one. The fur is so white! It looks like it was a quite location too. Here tourists stopping to take pictures of bear and large elk at close range has become such a dangerous situation.

    • Fortunately, during this particular trip, we didn’t see any tourists doing crazy stuff around the wildlife. The goats were along the side of the road, and everyone seemed to stay close to their vehicles trying not to disturb the goats. Hubby was actually standing in front of our stopped truck for that photo and then immediately jumped back in the truck. I stayed across the street and zoomed in with the camera. We saw the same scenario with the bison where folks were standing next to their vehicles. People do behave thoughtless at times endangering themselves and the animals.

    • I would definitely recommend visiting Mount Rushmore AND Crazy Horse. At Crazy Horse, once a year they open the monument to hikers and that’s something I’d like to do. I’m not a history buff, but found the history and info on the making of the sculptures very interesting as did my daughter (20 at the time). Once you’ve seen the monuments, there’s a ton of other things to see and do in the Black Hills and Badlands. I think you’d enjoy a trip to SW South Dakota. No shortage of things to photograph.

    • Two weeks might be enough, but if you like to take your time and discover those out of the way hidden gems then you might enjoy a little more time. It’s incredibly pretty here.

  12. We did not get to Deadwood or Spearfish during our visit. It doesn’t sound like Deadwood will be on the list of travel plans for our future. We loved the mountain goats when we visited Mt. Rushmore. They were right out near the parking lot, which was a surprise to us as we got out of the truck. Lovely photos as always Ingrid. 🙂

    • Next years travels may include a return to this part of South Dakota. So many places, so little time 🙂 I’m sure Deadwood has some fun attributes, but after my bout with Valley Fever, the cigarette smoke had us hightailing it outta there.

    • We have been enjoying these back roads and small towns. I was across the street from the goats near parked vehicles and then zoomed in when photographing those cuties. Thank goodness for a good zoom!

    • Thanks Susie. Yikes! I wouldn’t want to be any where near Sturgis during the motorcycle rally. Anytime of year, the Black Hills are a popular draw with motorcycles. The scenic byways are the perfect venue for this mode of transportation.

  13. You really packed in the sightseeing and you hit soooo many great spots (incl. many we having seen). Excellent!
    Nina

    • We managed to take in a lot of the sights, but can’t wait to get back here to catch the places we missed. We might have to focus next summer on Wyoming and South Dakota 😉

  14. The last time we were at Mt Rushmore, we took the trail that runs along the base of the mountain. That was all new to us, and we were impressed.

    Thanks for the tip on the burger, Ingrid! That looks yummy!

    Jim

  15. Oh Ingrid, what a joy it was to visit the Black Hills with you and your husband. Your photos are really clear and lovely, capturing such awesome vistas. I really liked seeing the mountain goats a lot, they are not usually so close up — how fortunate for you! 🙂

    • Always enjoy your comments Jet. You’re right, the mountain goats are usually far away high in the mountains. This was a thrill to see these cuties up close 🙂

  16. We didn’t spend any where near enough time in the black hills when we went to get our residency. We did Crazy Horse, but passed on Mt. Rushmore. We did a drive by and it just didn’t seem very impressive after Crazy Horse. We liked Deadwood, but we hit a couple of the museums there and they were interesting. I am ready to visit the whole area again.

    • I’m with you and ready to go back already. My daughter and I found some of the displays at Mount Rushmore interesting including a large model. It was amazing to see how some of the original details have eroded away. I’d like to visit Crazy Horse during the once a year hike to the top. Beautiful country.

  17. Agree with you and Lisa about Deadwood. Drove through on my way home from our visit and confirmed my previous impressions. Too bad. It could be a fun and interesting place but gambling and T-shirts just doesn’t cut it. Thanks for posting the nice pic of Honey and me and the link to my blog. We’ll all miss the Black Hills. Can you imagine what it must have been like with the abundance of wildlife before settlement and mining? Amazing place.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more Lenore – on all points. We’re thinking next summer might be a Wyoming and South Dakota excursion. I’m glad you liked the pic. That was the only one where Honey was looking at the camera. We enjoyed meeting you two.

  18. I agrre: those mountain goats are cute. But the longhorns [http://tinyurl.com/ptwtogm] are fantastic, too. They’re magnificent animals.
    Have a wonderful day,
    Pit

    • Glad you enjoyed a good meal. Our meal was so so, but seeing the Kevin Costner costumes was kind of interesting. Those baby goats are indeed the cutest. If we hadn’t been on such a narrow road to begin with, I would’ve sat on the ground watching these guys for the next hour. Fortunately, hubby being the wiser, insisted I had taken enough photos and it was time to move on!

    • With those wheels turning, let me know what you discover. I may be looking in to a few things myself 😉 There’s no doubt in my mind, you two would enjoy spending a summer in the Black Hills.

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