An Adventure in U-turns

Day 6 – The Black Hills, SD

002We are in the Blacks Hills of South Dakota!

This was a good day.  We finally were able to get out of the truck for some short hiking which included walking through the town of Deadwood.

After leaving Chris’ Camp in Spearfish, traveling into the Black Hills was only a short distance.  We wanted to take advantage of the scenery so we took Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, Hwy 14A.  The route took us through a wending canyon.  On the way, we pulled over at two turnouts to view waterfalls.  I imagine during the spring snow melt they are spectacular.

We stopped at Roughneck waterfall to stretch out legs on a one mile hike into the falls.  It was so good to get out and walk!  The falls were pretty.

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The byway continued Lead and into Deadwood.  We stopped in Deadwood for lunch and while eating, we decided to walk around the town.   Deadwood reminded us a lot of Park City, Utah.  We were glad we made this unplanned stop.

The town is quaint and cute and has an interesting history.  This was a gold rush town, built in 1874 and boomed into a population of 5,000.  This town was built in a tight, narrow valley and residents built up on the hillsides.  The town was devastated more than once by floods.  Also, this little town had not one but three fires that took out the business district.  The town always rebuilt.  And today it hosts tourists and for a post summer vacation Saturday, the town was bustling.

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After Deadwood, we drove to our campground, Rafter J Bar Ranch, outside of Hill City.  This campground gets a triple A+ from us!  It was a great place with acres and acres of camp sites.   It was green and shaded by tall pines.  All the facilities were wonderful.  If anyone wants to visit the Black Hills for more than one day, we highly recommended this spot!

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Dale decided after our check-in, that we would go to Mt. Rushmore.  I thought I could take sunrise photos but the park doesn’t open until 7:30, a time past the sunrise.   So we took it in in the late afternoon but we weren’t disappointed.

Driving into Mt. Rushmore and our first site of the Presidents.

I came here as a child in the 1960’s and we brought our kids here in the early 1990’s on our Illinois camping trip.  When we drove in to the park and parking lot, boy, it has changed!  From a simple parking lot to this multi-leveled parking garage!  Well, anyway, we enjoyed ourselves.  There is also a little Presidents Nature Trail that we walked and were able to pretty much walk under the Presidents’ noses.

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In the visitors center there was a small display about the pine beetle kill in the Black Hills.  I was astonished by the huge areas of dead trees, sometimes the orange brown of dead was more than the green of healthy pines.  The display had a photo of the area in 2005.  It was healthy and unscathed by beetles.  Eight years later, another photo was taken of the same area and it was devastating!  I thought the Tahoe area in California was bad and I thought the area around Helena, Montana was bad, but they are nothing compared to the Black Hills beetle kill!.

The pine bark beetle kill near our campground.

The pine bark beetle kill near our campground.

We packed up and left the campground by 9:45 a.m. and I found myself wine tasting by 10:15.  More to follow . . .

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This entry was published on September 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm. It’s filed under South Dakota and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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