May 2020 – “Now Somewhere in the Black Mining Hills of Dakota …”

We left the Badlands and drove 90 minutes west to Rapid City to have Frieghtliner re-diagnose and get the part ordered to be installed by Floyds Truck Center. A quick tour of Rapid City while we waited, nice clean city starting to open up, we planned to revisit after a stay in Hot Springs, about an hour south and an excellent base for touring the Black Hills and Custer State Park. Once our diagnosis was complete we left for the Angostura Recreational Area and Cheyanne Campground to wait for the part to come in, “7 – 10 days” they said.

A huge State Park with 186 campsites in 3 separate campgrounds. The site we’d booked online was undoubtedly the worst site they had. We tried for an hour to position the coach so we didn’t have to use a step ladder to get in and out, even lost a ton on water from the overflow tank, due to heavy listing. Eventually we went back to the ranger station for a pity party..

The ranger, Jason was so understanding and did his best in a sold out situation. We started out for 2 nights at site 17 which had a beautiful view of the lake, after which we were allocated a site in the “party” area. Fortunately the partying only went through the weekend, by Sunday everyone had left and all was quiet

Our first site at Cheyanne Campground

Angostura Recreation Park is a reservoir with the Cheyanne River the inflow and outflow. It’s a popular spot for fishing, boating with beaches and a marina.

Angostura Reservoir

 

There’s even an area for boondocking on the other side and horse camping

Even the cows have their own beach

The local town of Hot Springs is a work in progress. Most of the buildings on this street were facades with reconstruction going on within the shells

Of course there are hot springs in Hot Springs, Evans Plunge being the largest and oldest established in 1890 and indoors. It wasn’t open when we were there, but is planning to do so now

Another tourist site closed, the Wind Cave National Park, but it’s been closed for a while due to the elevators being inoperable, which are a necessity for medical extractions. With it’s steep stairs, narrow passageways and small rooms we were quite content to drive on by

Just down the road from here was the entrance to Custer State Park. We now have yearly passes to WA and SD State Parks, which saves paying those hefty fees.

Our introduction to the park was watching mother and baby walk across the road, this fawn could only have been days or hours old.

The Bison herd was 1,300 at last count, then the babies arrived, calves everywhere. The park likes to keep the herd at 1,400, so every year they hold an auction to retain that number.

The bison are in large groups all over the park, would love to be there during the few days when they round them up for health checks, vaccines and the auction. Apparently thousands of people come to watch, and that weekend the park is free to attendees.

In the pens normally used for the  bison round-up we found this little group of burros.

A lone prong horn sheep

Our second site at Cascade Campground

The Black Hills are so called as from a distance the thick and dense ponderosa pines look black. There are two quite distinct parts of the hills, the North and South spreading from South Dakota to eastern Wyoming. The southern area containing Mount Rushmore and northern hills almost reaching Sturgis, so roads built with motorcyclists in mind.

Imagine for a second the dulcet sounds coming from Steve singing Rocky Raccoon, and Chris’s best rendition of  Doris Day with Take me Back to the Black Hills.

Peter Norbeck inspired and built the roads and bridges around here, mapping it out on horseback in 1919

We drove from Hot Springs to Mount Rushmore via Iron Mountain Highway and back via The Needles Highway. The roads and turnouts offered the most wonderful views, and the bridges and tunnels were works of art

 

Our first view of Mount Rushmore

Seen for so many years in photos, getting up close was a sight to behold. Apparently they cannot add any more carvings there’s no more usable rock.

The sculptor responsible for carving the heads on Mount Rushmore was Gutzon Borglum, who completed the first head, Washington, unveiled in 1930. The entire work was completed in 1941 the year of Gutzons death, with the final details finished by his son Lincoln Borglum.

Next stop was to Crazy Horse mountain carving and memorial

The construction began in 1948 and according to a friend who was there 20 years ago, very little work has been done since, mainly due to opposition from different Native American tribes.

Needles Highway

Some very beautiful spots driving through the Black Hills

Got to play some golf in Hot Prings Nice course and it was following all the COVID-19 protocols, plus there were only a few of us playing. No rakes at the bunkers, no removal of flag sticks, we felt perfectly safe.

They had styrofoam rings in the cup, so your ball did not drop all the way down into the cup.

Time to head back to Rapid City for the coach repairs.  A week well spent!

3 thoughts on “May 2020 – “Now Somewhere in the Black Mining Hills of Dakota …”

  1. Don’t remember if I have said this to you but thank you for sharing your travels in word and photograph. This no doubt will be the only way this old man ever visits these wonderful places..

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    • Thank you Pete, that was kind of you. We did this blog thing for us to keep track of where we have been and what we have seen. It is so nice that other people get to see our journey and appreciate it.

      Like

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