Thursday, August 12, 2010

Black Hills National Forest ~ Custer State Park ~ Custer City, SD

The Black Hills National Forest, so named due to the fact the tree covered mountains looked black, consists of several areas in the region and all of them are incredible to see. The main industry in the past had been mining and timber but the tourism has taken over and that would include Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Sturgis Motorcycle rally and Custer State Park.  (clik on colored names to see more). 

Entrance to Custer State Park
You must purchase a pass to visit State Parks and it cost $15 for a week for us. A warden is at the gate for each entrance and they greet you on your arrival. From there on it is a self directed tour and there can be different roads to follow once you’re in there, the main one is called the Wildlife Loop Road.

Buffalo mom and calf crossing

 We were here to see all that we could and we spent many hours driving around the Custer State Park and were able to see all kinds of wildlife, some very curious burros, some shy buffalo standing in the pine trees, and then there were some that felt very free to roam the range and cross the road whenever they took the notion. Travel this road with care. There were several calves in this herd and at this age, they look very similar to cattle.  Clik on YouTube to see them as they walk along the road.

Main Street in Custer City, SD

Custer City is considered the ‘mother city’ and is one of the oldest established towns in the area. It was the first to discover gold in all of the Black Hills and was named for Lt. Colonol George Armstrong Custer.

Walking down the widest Main Street in the US, which was made this wide to accommodate oxen turning buggies, is like a flashback in time, as long as we don’t notice the vehicles parked along the paved road.

The old bank still standing
Custer City is headquarters for Black Hills National Forest, although it is not a very large town. The population was 1860 people at last census and they obviously take great pride in their small town.Many storefronts have retained the old western town look. The old bank is now home to a restaurant but still keeps the signage that reminds us of the days gone by.

Buffalo artwork
There is a buffalo on many of the downtown corners covered in artwork. These were a result of a Custer Stampede project and is sponsored by the Custer area Chamber of Commerce and the Custer Area Arts Council.

Stories in artwork

The buffalo art adds a lot to the atmosphere and the artwork is incredible. They aren’t life size compared to some real buffalo we’d seen on our travels but they’re close to some of them.  The story told on some and the artwork is incredible.  Check out more at this link.
Follow us on our drive on the Needles Highway and enjoy the incredible views there.

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