Black Hills August 2004

Diary of Linda, Myself, and Meggie's trip to the Black Hills area in South Dakota - August of 2004

8/4/04 Spent time in the morning making reservations for rafting the Menominee River in Wisconsin on 8/21/04 for 8 people at $45 per person. Also made reservation for camping site with full hook ups,6 people, at Kosir’s Resort on the Peshtigo River for 8-20 21. If I arrive during the week there will be plenty of space. Got a late start driving about 290 miles to Custer South Dakota. Stayed at beautiful RV Park called the Pines adjacent to a NFS entry point. We ran Maggie on a NFS logging trail in the evening and the next morning. Had Buffalo Burgers at the Wrangler Restaurant in Custer for dinner .

8/5/04 The Pines RV Park was booked because of the Sturgis Motor Cycle Rally, so we decided to go into Custer SP to look for first come first serve camping sites. We lucked out and got a cancellation at Blue Bell Lodge Campground in the park complete with Rustic Lodge, Riding Stables, and access into the forest from our beautiful Ponderosa Pine covered camping site. The site was extremely unleveled, but the very friendly camp host loaned us a 2x8x4’ board to add to my leveling blocks to get as the saying goes “Nuts On” level. After getting set up and relaxed we decided to drive the 35 mile park wild life loop through the park. We saw white tailed deer, pronged antelope, prairie dogs, and about 300 Bison causing a traffic jam. About ½ way we left the park on a unused gravel road #6 into Wind Cave NP where we let Maggie run along the road for 45 minutes. We then returned to the wild life loop and continued on. The park is approximately 5,300 elevation with alternating rolling prairie grass, occasion rock bluffs spires, mixed deciduous conifer forest, and Ponderosa Pine forest. The forests are open with green grass and wild flowers between the trees. Ponderosa Pines require lots of space and sun to grow. It is really one of the most beautiful and unique state parks I have ever been in and would definitely visit this park again. Returned to camp and had left over pork stew for dinner. I crashed about 8:00 p.m., but Linda stayed up and attended the ranger talk about what the CCC constructed in Custer SP.

8/6/04 Started another park tour towards the Needles area. We stopped at a NFS official road only and walked in about 1.5 miles with Maggie off leash and returned the same way spotting two large elk. Meggie caught a field mouse and then caught wind and sight of the elk, becoming very excited, so we decided to leash her up the final ½ mile of the return. The Needles road built by the CCC was very exciting with 10 mph hair pin curves and 3 one way tunnels that got quite congested because of all the Sturgis Rally bikers touring the park. At the top of the Needles road we saw the very picturesque Sylvan Lake nestled between large boulder and needle shaped rocks. We stopped several places along with the bikers to do photography. We then drove to Crazy Horse Monument and visited the interesting museums and displays. The cost of entry was $18 which goes towards the ongoing construction of the larger than Mt. Rushmore Crazy Horse granite statue. I then visited a wood carving museum in Custer. We then returned to our campground where I took Maggie for another walk in the Ponderosa Forest burn area of 1988. We attended the ranger talk at a late 9:00 p.m. about grasslands. The park grasslands can support 1,400 bison maximum and the park management must keep the forest from encroaching on the grassland by harvesting trees and or controlled burning. Each fall 500 bison are sold and a hunt costing $4,000 per tag is done to keep the bison population in check, as their natural predators the wolf and grizzly bear are no longer present in the park.

8/7/04 Slept in late to 10:00 a.m. I made fresh hash brown potatoes, bacon, and eggs for breakfast. We then headed to Wind Cave National Monument. Along the way we took Maggie on a 3 mile walk on a NFS road that had prairie dogs the entire length of it. Maggie went crazy going from hole to hole trying to catch a prairie dog, but she was unable to even get close to catching one as they just ducked into their holes when Maggie approached. Meggie ran at least 6 miles in the hot sun and got somewhat over heated. We cooled her off with water and got her into the air conditioned truck. She was fine by the time we got to Wind Cave. It is the 4th largest cave in the US and is the only cave in the world that has box formation crystals. The ceiling and sides look like honey comb and have beautiful coloration. The tour we took lasted about 2 hours. The temperature was a cool 53 F. The only negative was that we had a hearing impaired mother and child who required sign language from our guide, so the lecture was very slow indeed. The child kept crying very loudly and apparently the mother could not hear the obnoxious noise. Finally the father who could hear intervened by taking the child away from the main group. I still enjoyed the tour and was very impressed by this beautiful cave. At night we attended the ranger lecture slide show about bison.

8/8/04 Left at 8:00 a.m. and drove 325 miles arriving in Mitchell, SD about 4:30 p.m.. The wind was very strong and some trailers on I90 were swaying dangerously. We saw 100’s of motor cycles heading west to the Sturgis Rally. Linda and I are now sick of listening to those noisy straight pipe Harley Davidson cycles for the past 4 days. We stopped at Wall drug star for a ½ hour. It’s a real tourist trap, but those fresh fried frosted cake donuts were so delicious. Checked into R R RV in Mitchell. Linda washed clothes and cleaned up the trailer. We visited the Mitchell Corn Palace a very interesting piece of local art.

8/9/04 Left late again around 9:30 a.m. and drove 275 miles to Austin, MN. Strong winds continue fortunately from our rear. Temperature in the high 60’s and some light rain. Checked into Beaver Trails RV Park, a large park with lots of green grass and trails, but unfortunately right on the noisy I90 freeway.

Last updated on February 6, 2019