Years ago, on a trip with the kids, we traveled through the Black Hills. We did not have a burning urge to return on this trip. But there they sat, between Devil’s Tower and the Badlands–two new places we wanted to visit–so we decided to explore a bit more.
The hills are not so black now. Years of pine beetle infestations have left large swaths of dead reddish-brown trees, or the infested trees have been taken down, leaving clear cuts alternating with the dark forest. As a result, the hills have a mottled, mangy look.
We left the trailer at the RV park in Custer and drove the Needles Highway, a narrow, twisting road carved through an area of rocky pinnacles, with one-lane tunnels hacked out of the rock face.
We wanted to do some hiking and chose the Sylvan Lake area so that Zoe could swim. The hike provided more rock pinnacle Rorschach tests.
Our favorite activity in the Black Hills was deer watching from our campsite. We stayed at a tiny private RV park, the Roost Resort, which overlooked a large field with a herd of whitetail deer, including a young fawn.
The deer were active all day, jumping and running, with their white tails flying high at the sign of any danger. George caught some nice shots of the mother and baby.
The bushes at our campsite were inundated with bumble bees and a few honey bees.
We also enjoyed a pair of mountain bluebirds that were unusually social.
Off to the Badlands.