BLACK HILLS, SOUTH DAKOTA
So Much Natural Beauty To Behold
|The scenery in the Black Hills
is hard to beat and is best experienced as a whole by driving the area’s
scenic highways, Needles Highway (SR 87) and Iron Mountain Road
(US 16A). Both roads pass through Custer State Park ($12 fee per vehicle.
Park pass good for 1 week.). The 14-mile Needles Highway passes through
the unusual and spectacular granite spires for which the road is named. It
also passes by the incredibly scenic Sylvan Lake, a small mountain
lake bordered by enormous granite formations. It passes through two narrow
tunnels which can be difficult for motor homes or vehicles pulling large
trailers. Iron Mountain Road features spectacular mountain scenery,
hairpin curves, a spiral bridge and two narrow tunnels which perfectly
frame Mt. Rushmore. Both roads contain numerous overlooks and
pulloffs where visitors can stop and enjoy the scenery.
You are virtually guaranteed to see abundant wildlife while traveling these roads, particularly in the early morning. We encountered dozens of deer, some elk and turkeys. Our biggest treat came when we pulled over along US 16A to allow a herd of bison (a.k.a. buffalo) to pass. There were about 200 beasts in the herd, coming within inches of our vehicle as they thundered by. Also we encountered a group of 6 wild donkeys... descendants of the donkeys used by miners and turned loose when the mines were abandoned. We pulled over and the friendly animals came right up to our vehicle expecting a treat. We obliged with an apple. I cracked the window just far enough to slip the apple through. Undoubtedly, they would have stuck their massive heads into our vehicles had they been given the opportunity.
Early Thursday morning on my solitary excursion, I drove parts of the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road. Once again, there were very few people out between 6 and 8 AM. I slipped the Beatles White Album into the CD player and listened to "Rocky Raccoon" over and over as I took in the breathtaking scenery. Early in the morning, the wildlife is even more visible. I lost count after about 50 deer. The solitude, brisk morning air and sunshine upon the towering granite formations lent to a peaceful, idyllic morning.
Weather: Sunny, hot afternoon... cool, perfect summer morning
BLACK HILLS SCENERY AND WILDLIFE PHOTOS (Click on thumbnails for larger image):