OTRA - SD - Hermosa
Sep 24, 2013
Back down I-90 and U.S. 79 we went once again, this time to Hermosa, SD. It was a nice short trip down from Sturgis on a clear day. Left around 11:00 and got to the Heartland RV Park & Campground about 20 miles south of Rapid City about 1 ½ hours later. The campground is right close to highway so we’re going to get truck noise but with either the air conditioner or the heater running, we don’t hear too much. There’s also train tracks on the other side of the highway but since we both like trains, that won’t be a bother either, especially since there are no road crossings nearby for them to blow their whistles. Only 1 train went by this evening. It’s a single track so I guess they really have to tightly schedule who’s going in which direction when.
Off today to Custer State Park in search of bison (American Buffalo) and elk. After stopping at the Visitor's Center, we drove the wildlife route but, while the scenery was once again outstanding, we only saw 3 bison…in singles…no deer, no elk, no nothin’, not even squirrels or rabbits! What a revoltin’ development that was! We did see several open tour cars full of people around the park but they weren't acting too wild. I guess they use those for people who don’t want to drive themselves. There were also tour buses traveling the wildlife route.
We were about ready to give up seeing anything really neat and then we came around curve and there they were, hundreds of bison on both sides of road!! Absolutely fantastic! Such magnificent animals they are, too. Some really HUGE mature bulls, lots of cows, some calves, and some “teenage” bulls. None of them paid any attention to cars or buses, not even the youngsters. I guess, like the ones in Yellowstone, they’re quite used to gawking tourists. They just walk along, grazing as they go and when they feel like it, just cross road, ignoring the traffic.
With birth of babies in spring, the herd usually swells to about 1400. Every year (this Friday this year) they have a roundup and bring all the bison in to innoculate, sort, and sell to bring herd down to what the park can support during the winter. They like it to be about 950 over winter.
After watching the bison, we started seeing wild burros, a couple of deer and pronghorn antelopes as we drove further. Long day; gorgeous scenery; good time.
We want to go back Friday for the roundup. The lady in visitor’s center said to be there by 5:30 a.m. (My alarm clock doesn't even HAVE 5:30 a.m. on it!) Supposed to be a high of 45*. Going to be cold!!
Drove through the town of Keystone on the way home. I think we want to go back there to do some exploring. Looks like a nice little tourist trap town but more quaint that most. Tomorrow we visit Mt. Rushmore. Do you know how Mt. Rushmore got its name? This site tells that story. Scroll down to "The Birth of Mt. Rushmore".
Today was our day to visit Mt. Rushmore. Again, an absolutely beautiful drive to get there including 3 tunnels along our route. What's really neat is that you can see the sculptures in the distance as you drive through the one tunnel. It sort of frames it. We were a bit surprised by the $11 they charge to park, though. Admission to the park is free. So this is one national park where our Senior Pass doesn't do us a bit of good. Oh well.
Gutzon Borglum started designing this sculpture when he was 58. Although Borglum was a well-known artist/sculpture, the men who worked on the mountain were local ranchers and workers. It was hard, and dangerous work, but it is a masterpiece.
More of our Mount Rushmore pictures are here.
Didn’t go to the buffalo roundup after all. COLD (45*) and WINDY when we got up at 4:30 a.m. and stayed that way all day. Watched it on the news this evening.
Didn't do anything yesterday, really. Bob watched some football games; I did a little geocaching.
Today, however, is our last day here so off we went to the quaint little town of Keystone. Since this is a Monday, it's a lot less crowded than when we first came through it on the weekend. And it's just what we thought it was...a quaint little tourist town with a lot of history. Lots of shops, some neat (oh, how I love Black Hills Gold jewelry!!!), some a little tacky (mostly stuff from China in those shops). We stopped and had a nice ice cream cone and did a lot of window shopping. Got a geocache at the Big Thunder Gold Mine, stopped for gas at the Flying J and on home.