The south end of the Black Hills did not disappoint. We spent 4 nights camped at a small campground 30 minutes south of Custer State Park. If you’re rolling through Hot Springs, SD, stop at Sunrise Ridge Campground. Josh and Alicia are amazing hosts.
Hot Springs has a number of attractions, including the world famous Mammoth Site (home to hundreds of partially excavated mammoth bones).
We spent our first full day driving the Wildlife and Needles scenic routes inside Custer State Park. Hundreds of prairie dogs and buffalo greeted us as we entered the park from the south. Further along, we saw pronghorn and wild donkeys.
The drive to Sylvan lake on Needles road gave us fantastic views of the igneous rock formations visible throughout the Black Hills. Formed from molten magma, these igneous rocks crystallized at depth, as the magma pushed up through the sedimentary layers. The softer rocks eroded over time, leaving the rock spires the Black Hills are famous for. The Needles are a climber’s paradise, and while hiking around Sylvan lake, we met some friendly rock climbers from Quebec.
The other scenic drive in Custer State Park is Iron Mountain Road. We took this historic route (est. 1933) the next day and saw more great scenery and tunnels that framed Mt Rushmore in the distance.
On our last day we took a tour of Jewel Cave National Monument. With over 200 miles of tunnels, and still only 5% mapped, Jewel Cave may one day be confirmed as the largest cave system in the world.
|Sylvan Lake - Custer State Park|