Our first visit to Custer State Park was on July 1, 2011, and before we even got into the park we were enjoying the beautiful scenery.
At the park entrance, stone and a artistic rendition of a bison. The park is home to a herd of about 1,300 bison.
Let's take a glance at a map of the park and surrounding area first, this is from one of the signs at the park:
We entered the park from the west, at Custer, driving east on 16 to the area near Badger Hole, from thence continue west on 16A to the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center. The center is our first stop. After we leave the visitor center we will continue east and then north on 16A, our eventual goal will be Mount Rushmore.
At the visitor center we found some nice docents, and informative displays, including some examples of the local fauna (prairie dogs, but, of course, because I am over the top crazy about prairie dogs, go figure). There are several nice displays talking about the history of the park. I took this photo of the inside of the building, isn't it wonderful? The building was built by the CCC (Civil Conservation Corps) in 1935 using the local rocks and logs. Both are visible in this photo, the logs were massive.
It started raining while we were in the visitor center, but, we decided to continue our drive anyway. It was pouring, really pouring. And, look how green it is.
The rain continued, at times it slowed down a bit and we would stop at some of the pull off viewpoints. Eventually we left Custer State Park and entered the section of the road that has 3 tunnels, narrow short tunnels. We had been told when you exit one of these tunnels you will get a view of of Mount Rushmore that will take your breath away. We had been given strict instructions on how to come from the south, driving north. This next photo is of the first tunnel, it is 13 foot 4 inches wide and 12 foot 4 inches high. The first sign gives the size of the tunnel, the next sign says, "Falling Rock", then the last sign says, "Sound Horn". Big Butt fit through the tunnels just fine, Tana would not have, as she is 13 foot 1 inch tall.
Let get a bit closer:
And, while we are inside:
And, here it what we came for, our first look:
We were able to find a spot to pull off and take a few more photos, I liked this one, even with the heavy, rain laden skies:
This is the last of the 3 tunnels on this section of 16A, but, it is not the last tunnel we will drive during our visit in the Black Hills of South Dakota. You know, not much fazes Man, the Palm Springs Tram, he loved it, standing on the edge of canyons in Arizona and Utah, not a problem. But, I found something that made him blanch and maybe even turn green, a tunnel! I'll tell you about it soon. Oh, that pickup truck in the photo below, same size as Big Butt, a bit close, but, just you wait - -
From here we drove over to Mount Rushmore, but the rain was coming down in buckets, so, we did not stop. From Mount Rushmore we drove about 14 miles west on 244 and then south on 16/385 towards Crazy Horse. More on the rest of our day in a future post here on Reflections.