I’ve lived in Utah a whopping fourteen years and never, ever made the road trip back to my motherland, Wisconsin. Well that is until now. Something about the addition of little Kangaroo the Dog to my family made me want to drive 1,500 miles across the country so my little puppy could romp around in the woods and lakes where I grew up.
I decided to take my time heading across the country and stop in South Dakota for a few days to check out the Black Hills since I’ve never been and South Dakota is so beautiful OMG, who knew?!?
We arrived in the town of Custer at dusk, quickly set up the tent, and headed to the trail head for Harney Peak. Harney Peak is the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains with an elevation of 7,244 feet and apparently has spectacular panoramic views of the Black Hills, but we couldn’t see sh!t. I then headed to Bitter Esters in downtown Custer for some super good eats and and a tasty South Dakotan microbrew while listening to the absolute worst downpour in the history of ever going on outside. Fearing the complete flooding of my tent, I had another beer and searched for hotels in Custer which there were none available since nearly all of Wisconsin and Minnesota was vacationing here at the moment.
Soggy sleeping bags make for early rising and I found myself at Mt. Rushmore before 7am, which is probably the only time I could have tolerated the place since there were very few people and no long lines of RV traffic to contend with yet. I have to admit I burst out laughing when I first caught a glimpse of the heads high up on a distant cliff. I hadn’t expected the sculpture to be so high up on the mountain and the heads just looked so silly up there. Sadly, dogs aren’t allowed in the viewing area so I made a quick run around the point six mile Presidential Trail that gets you as close as you can to the monument and then Roo and I dinked around across the street to appreciate the massive sculpture from afar. I do have to admit it was pretty neat.
From Mt. Rushmore, we headed to Deadwood where I visited the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, tasted some vino at the Belle Joli winery (the only dog-friendly place I found in all of South Dakota), and doubled my ten dollar bill in a Willy Wonka slot machine.
We then trucked it back to Custer State Park for a sunset run to the Little Devil’s Tower which was amazing. I seriously had no idea the Black Hills were so beautiful. The Cathedral Spires area looked like some fairy tale land with groups of granite pillars poking out everywhere looking like castles. I would definitely go back to Custer and would love to do a giant run since the trail network is quite impressive.
We got up early and threw the sopping tent in the back of my car and headed across the entire state of South Dakota with a stop by Wall Drug for a 5 cent coffee of course and then hit Devil’s Tower on the way back across.