Episode 8: A Dark and Dangerous Path, Mount Rushmore, & Custer State Park
Updated: Jan 18
"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise." -Rumi
In Episode 8, we continue our camping trip in Hill City, South Dakota! We started the day by heading to Custer State Park. I'll admit I didn't do any research on the park before our trip, so I really wasn't sure what to expect. It turned out to be incredible--probably my favorite part of our trip.
I wish we would have had several days to explore here! Some areas of the park were pretty crowded especially where the bison and burros were near the roads, but we had every dirt road to ourselves!
We saw beautiful meadows that seemed to go on forever, tall pine forests, the beautiful Legion Lake, and incredible rock tunnels. Our group was anxious to make it to Mount Rushmore, so we were not able to get to Needles Highway today, but we made it back to this part of this park on our last day in South Dakota.
We ate a buffet lunch within the park and found the Brady family Jeep before taking Iron Mountain Road to Mount Rushmore. We went through one of the tunnels and found Mount Rushmore off in the distance straight ahead. There's a degree of magic in seeing something for yourself that you've seen pictures of your whole life.
Connor and Clara loved seeing Mount Rushmore up close. We left with a sense of awe knowing we had just seen a monument that will last for generations, something that will tell the future who we are and what we value. Well, three of us were impressed and one of us said it was probably not worth the hype...
Custer and Mount Rushmore were enough adventure for most of our group, but our family decided to go on a quick ride at dusk when we finished dinner. We traveled down a side road that claimed to lead to a dam. We saw enormous rock walls just off the road, deer, and cattle freely crossing the road. We saw several trails off this road and planned to get back the next day to explore them.
We ran out of light before we made it to the dam, and decided to turn back rather than going further into the unknown alone. We hadn't seen a vehicle or person since turning onto that road which added to our uneasy feeling. We decided to follow the GPS route back to camp to save time, but quickly realized that was a mistake. We reluctantly followed directions as Google lead us down a dirt trail in a valley and across a winding stream. This lead to a narrow trail up the side of a mountain and came next to a narrow metal grate. With no room to turn around and no light around us, we backed down the trail and crawled our way back to the road.
When we arrived back at camp, we were thankful to see a welcoming fire and Fred and Michelle waiting for us. Lesson? Don't trust your GPS. Check out our adventure at here!
Watch for our next episode in South Dakota coming soon! Connect with us on Facebook if you ever want to ride with us or just to see what we're up to!