2009 Alaska travel blog

Custer, SD - Custer State Park, Game Lodge Campground - site 22E

Bear Country USA 0 - Elk with quite a rack

Bear Country USA 1 - Caribou

Bear Country USA 2 - Arctic Wolf

Bear Country USA 3 - Big Horn Sheep

Bear Country USA 4 - Black Bear taking a rest

Bear Country USA 5 - Boy, it's 9:30 am and I'm already...

Bear Country USA 6 - more Black Bears

Bear Country USA 7 - Burros

Bear Country USA 8 - this galneeds to give birth, fast!

Bear Country USA 9 - White Buffalo - not an albino -...

Bear Country USA 10 - Badgers

Bear Country USA 11 - Racoon

Bear Country USA 12 - Racoon with very different coloring

Bear Country USA 13 - Lynx

Bear Country USA 14 - a couple of cubs playing in the...

Bear Country USA 15 - they had a bumper crop of cubs...

Bear Country USA 16

Bear Country USA 17

Bear Country USA 18 - Red Fox

Bear Country USA 19 - an 800 pound Grizzly scratching his neck...

Bear Country USA 20 - Cougar, Puma, Mountain Lion - they don't...

Bear Country USA 21 - Timber Wolf

Wildlife Loop 1 - Pronghorn Antelope

Wildlife Loop 2

Wildlife Loop 3 - these guys are really small - probably only...

Wildlife Loop 4 - whitetails

Wildlife Loop 5

Wildlife Loop 6 - Mule Deer

Wildlife Loop 7 - the rolling plains and part of the buffalo...

Wildlife Loop 8 - more of the herd

Wildlife Loop 9 - and more - the herd has about 1,400...

Wildlife Loop 10

Wildlife Loop 11 - the markings on the pronghorn are really beautiful

Wildlife Loop 12 - wild burros

Wildlife Loop 13 - tail end of cattle drive

Wildlife Loop 14 - another part of the cattle drive

Wildlife Loop 15 - more wild burros

Wildlife Loop 16 - Big Horn Sheep

One of the tunnels on the Iron Muntain Highway - about 12.5...

Mount Rushmore from the Iron Mountain Highway

Mount Rushmore, another view

Mount Rushmore, and another

Mount Rushmore, left profile

Cathedral Spires 1

Cathedral Spires 2

Cathedral Spires 3

Sylvan Lake hike 1

Sylvan Lake hike 2

Sylvan Lake hike 3

Sylvan Lake hike 4

Sylvan Lake hike 5

Sylvan Lake hike 6

Sylvan Lake hike 7

Sylvan Lake hike 8

Sylvan Lake hike 9

Sylvan Lake hike 10

Sylvan Lake hike 11

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 1.57 MB)

Grizzly scratching on tree

(MP4 - 1.96 MB)

Grizzly just moseying along

Our journey from Spearfish to Custer State Park started out in a drizzle but had stopped for the most part by the time we got to our intermediate stop: the Bear Country USA attraction about nine miles south of Rapid City on the same road that goes to Mt. Rushmore.It was still cold, in the lower 50s with a stiff breeze as we took the Mothership and Libby for a ride through this wild animal park.

Of all of the wildlife drive-throughs we have experienced, Bear Country USA was the best. It had the largest variety of animals (black bears, grizzlies, elk, caribou, Dall sheep, mountain goats, cougars, Badgers, Red Fox, Raccoons and more). You drive through the park and they had some of the best specimens of the different animals we have seen. The elk had huge racks as did the caribou. They also had large numbers of each species. There must have been over 30 black bears alone. What's unique about the way they operate is the way they handle bear births. Each year the cubs are born while the mother is in hibernation. They allow the cubs to nurse from the mothers until just before the mother wakes up then they take the cub away and wean it from the mother. This keeps the cubs safe from the male bears and also acclimates them to human handling so they can be successfully used in the park or sold to zoos.

After arriving at the campground we quickly set up camp. We only have electricity but it is 50 amps. We have borderline cell service and was able to get the satellite easily. The campground itself is very nice with very large sites. They may be about the same size as Florida State Park campgrounds but they seem larger since there is no growth between sites, just grass.

While we have been here we have driven the 31 mile Wildlife Loop three times, the Needles Highway and the Iron Mountain Highway. If you are ever in this area, you must drive the Needles and Iron Mountain Highways. They are both very winding, up and down mountains, and contain tunnels that are narrow and low. Do not drive the RV on these two. It won't fit through the tunnels on the Needles (one tunnel is 8'4" wide and 12' 0" high) and the tunnels on the Iron Mountain are all about 12' square - a tight fit at best. There are also some very sharp switchbacks that back a long rig difficult to maneuver. But the views are fantastic and well worth the drive.

Tomorrow we start five one-night stands on the way to Elkhart. We plan on stopping in Valentine, NE for the first stop. Blogs on these trips will probably have campground info only unless we run across something really unique.

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