Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Black Hills of South Dakota

We finally arrived at our main purpose for this trip — the Black Hills of SD. We stopped in Custer, SD to get our bearings, maps, and suggestions for campgrounds. We’ve been boondocking for four nights and decided electricity, water, and internet would be fantastic for a change.

We finally found a nice, shady little campground in a valley along side a tiny stream on the Old Hill City Road, running between Hill City and Keystone, SD called Kemp’s Kamp. From this location, we can explore in various directions each day.

After sitting up camp, we drove the Peter Norbeck Scenic road, which includes all or part of the Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway. WOW!!!

To get up some of the mountain sides, the engineers built pigtail bridges where you drive under a bridge, hairpin curve around and up, cross over the bridge, hairpin curve around and up again and over a second bridge. Amazing! This photo doesn’t do it justice as I was too astounded in watching the road.

Looking back down at where we started.

Many of the roads also have single-lane tunnels cut right through house-sized boulders. A few were even tight for our pickup, so large RVs couldn’t travel those roads. This tunnel apparently cut through TWO boulders, with an opening between them.

Then we drove through the Needles. When asked if a road could be build through this area, an engineer said, “Yes, if you give me enough dynamite!” My index finger was getting strained from taking so many photos so quickly.

The road was very narrow, steep, and extremely winding — barely room for our pickup to pass.

Several scenic overlooks were nearly unbelievable.

Mt. Rushmore in the distance. Still a pretty imposing size even from this view.

I can’t imagine ever getting used to these huge rock formations. And the sound and smell of the wind in all the Ponderosa pines was so peaceful.

Feels like I either left — or found part of my soul in the area!

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