3500 Travels

Custer, SD & environs

We stayed at Custer Mountain Cabins & Campgrounds for two nights since there was much to see in the area. The pluses for our campsite was that it was nice, quiet, few neighbors, and awesome wi-fi. The radio unit was on a pole 20’ from the truck hood. As there are few people in the park the speed was impressive – much better than at home. Let’s say I downloaded a lot, as well as catching up on my blog, and paying bills. The minus was cold nights.

Yesterday (20th) we drove through Custer State Park which is beautiful. Many eco zones and very tastefully done places to stay. We were following US 16A, also known as the Iron Mountain Road. The road was one of the first designed to show the occupants as much as possible. Peter Norbeck gets credit for this one. Sometimes the narrow road splits into two very narrow single lanes, going around a ravine on each side. There were two pigtails where the road loops over itself via a wooden trestle.

Split road

Split road


Pig tail loop

Pig tail loop

Eventually we turned onto SD 244 and the final 2 miles to Mt Rushmore National Memorial. There is no entrance fee but $11/person to park. One might think it should be per vehicle, since it is parking, but hey, for $22 it was worth it. It was crowded with folks from all over the world. I was able to sort out Jefferson and Roosevelt for one party from England.

One reason I wanted to come to Mt Rushmore was to try and find a couple of locations that our family (my first one) visited in 1951. See, I have been to Mt. Rushmore before. Unfortunately, the area where my father is holding Kathleen in his lap, is now off limits. The cabin view showing my mother, sisters, and me, I think is gone. If you look very carefully you can see Mt. Rushmore in the background. I tried using Google Erath to figure out where this spot must have been. My best guess was Doane Mountain Road off of SD 244. What I found were relatively new houses for Forest Service workers. As I noted to Cathie, the trees looked about 30 to 40 years old. Seedlings long after we were there in 1951.
Dad&Kathleen

Long ago cabins

Long ago cabins

Nonetheless it was a pretty impressive to see the scale of the carvings. I walked the Presidential Trail, which consists of steps and a wide concrete path, but gets one quite close to the scree base.

View from entrance

View from entrance


View from Presidents Trail

View from Presidents Trail

We left a bit after noon and soon stopped at the Breezy Point Picnic area. Nice spot where we met a local couple that had come up early in the morning to here elk bugles. It was nice to see that locals come here too. They agreed that high summer was not the best time. I think our off-season travel has saved us from the worst crowds. From Breezy Point one can see Harney Peak, at 7,242ft. It is the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies.

Breezy Point Picnic area

Breezy Point Picnic area

Our next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. Crazy Horse was at the battle of Little Bighorn. The project was started by Korczak Ziolkowski 67 years ago. The bus tour guide is one of 11 people working there. He does say more modern tools, including laser range finding and AutoCAD are making the work go faster. Still it has a long way to go, so I am glad that Crazy Horse’s face was finished.

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial

There is a wonderful museum there with native America artifacts, paintings, and various historical items. There is also a “gate” depicting all the animal species – extant and extinct – that lived in the area. It was completed two months before Korczak Ziolkowski died.

Nature Gate plaque

Nature Gate plaque


Nature Gate

Nature Gate


Close up

Close up

We then headed back to our camp site, with a stop in Custer to get some food and for me to buy some wool socks. The first night at Custer Mountain Cabins & Campgrounds was cold. When we got up at 6:30 the little thermometer read 26F. My feet had been cold all night, hence the sock shopping. This morning it was a balmy 32F. Actually 6 degrees makes a huge difference, at least in this range. I slept much better thank you.

Campsite #1

Campsite #1

2 thoughts on “Custer, SD & environs

  1. Kathleen

    So glad to see the site where we were back in 1951. Even though its too far back to remember I feel a connection with the picture and like seeing and hearing about your 2015 experience. I love the blog and appreciate tagging along on the trip.

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