We got up with the knowledge that we didn’t have to hook up and take off to our next location. We had the whole day to do Custer State Park including some hikes, scenic drives, and a visit to those 4 Presidents on the mountain.
We started at 8:30 with the infamous Needles Highway drive known for the needle-like granite formations which seem to pierce the sky. Three extremely narrow, low, tunnels are cut into the roadway, the largest measuring 14’ wide and 12’ 9” high. Drivers towing trailers or driving motorhomes or buses are warned about the tunnels. I jumped out to get a picture of Tom as he drove through.
We did not drive long before finding the parking lot for the Cathedral Spires Trailhead. Only 1.25 miles one way, it is rated “strenuous.” As with most trails, it started out deceptively easy and developed the “strenuous” part as we went along.
After lunch we made the 20-minute drive to Mt. Rushmore and were pleasantly surprised that the tourist bottleneck was minimal! We appreciated the walk of the Avenue of the Americas leading up to the Presidential viewing platform – even hearing mostly foreign voices around us!
The Trail of the Presidents, leading off the observation deck, loops through the woods to the base of the monument debris field with separate decks to view each President.
The trail then continues down countless steps (thank goodness I didn’t count them) to the Sculpture’s Studio. On the way back up – Tom counted 123. With a walk-thru the informational displays and a sit-thru the video documentary, we did a quick pass-through the gift shop and then headed back towards the car in moderate rain.
The drive back to the campground was via the Iron Mountain Road:
17 miles, 314 curves,
14 switchbacks, 3 pigtails,
3 tunnels, and 2 splits!
We did NOT buy the commemorative T-Shirt, but did copy down all the stats!
At the campground we had a late supper cooked on the grill under the awning while a rather major thunderstorm pushed through. The brunt of the storm was while we were comfy and dry inside eating and preparing the next day’s route.
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown