Day 12: Hairpin bends in Custer State Park

Wednesday morning Ole went into work with our host Kelly in the Black Hills electricity company to experience how the power supply is controlled etc.


When he came back to the house we had coffee with Brenda and then we went for a drive in Custer State Park south of Rapid City. Custer has as a lot of scenic routes that wind their way through the landscape, sometimes through narrow tunnels through the rocks, and we had to make frequent stops to admire the views, for example a splendid view of Washington’s profile in Mt Rushmore.

When we came to a Visitor Center we stopped and watched a film about the park and its wildlife and then we drove the part of the drive called Wildlife Loop in the hope of seeing some buffalos. In the beginning we didn’t see much wildlife except for a few lonely buffalos in the distance, a few deer and some donkeys begging snacks from the cars. But suddenly the traffic came to a complete standstill which was caused by a large herd of buffalos who were crossing the road. So now we could see them up close. The were old ones, young ones and small calves. An old male stood watching us for a long time and snorted aggressively so we didn’t feel like getting out of the car and petting it!

In the end a ranger in a car came to get the buffalos of the road so the traffic could move again. Later we met an even bigger herd also by the roadside. At lunchtime we stopped at the Blue Bell Inn, an fine old log cabin, and had burgers with buffalo.

A new set of hairpin bends along a narrow unpaved road took us up to the top of Mt. Coolidge (6023 feet) from which there were gorgeous views over the park and with the help of binoculars we could see as far as Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument. Down from the mountain and along the Needles Highway, which passed a series of fantastic rock formations in the shape of small Ground of spires.


The last stop of the day was the Crazy Horse monument, which the Ziolkowski family has worked on since 1948. The monument was commissioned by Lakota chiefs and is an enormous project – the whole Mt Rushmore monument would fit into Crazy Horse’s head! The project includes a museum of the Indians and a university for Indians to be built at the foot of the mountain, but no one knows when it’ll be finished.


On the way back to Rapid City we drove along Sheridan Lake Road, a quiet road with cabins and vacation homes. In the evening Ole and Kelly went to visit Kelly’s friend, Clinton, to taste some of the beer Kelly and Clinton brew together and grill brats. Brenda thought we girls should have some fun, too, and took me to one of her favourite restaurants where we had a really nice meal and chatted.

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