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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Keystone, South Dakota, United States

Jun 30, 2020 - Alpacas!

Keystone, SD We started the day with an all-you-can-eat 99¢ pancake breakfast with cowboy bacon. Delicious! That fueled us up for a visit to Caputa Alpaca Farm. Normally this working farm is open 7 days a week but was closed today for shearing. Fortunately Jim had called and arranged for a private visit for us. We were able to see over 90 alpacas and 2 llamas. The llamas guard the alpacas here just as in real life in Peru. Most of the world’s alpacas still live in Peru, Bolivia and Chile. With fleece as soft as cashmere, they are a...

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Jun 29, 2020 - A "Fall" Day

Keystone, SD Some cool, fall weather would have been appreciated today as the temps hit 90 but our title refers to waterfalls, instead. We headed to the scenic beauty of the northern Black Hills and Spearfish Canyon. Spearfish Canyon’s narrow, 1000-foot walls are amazing. The elevation changes nearly 2,000 feet from one end of the Canyon to the other. Supposedly there are deer, mountain goats, porcupines and bobcats. We saw none but we did have a lovely picnic on the banks of Spearfish Creek. Spearfish Canyon offers tourists a chance to...

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Jun 28, 2020 - In Your Face!

Keystone, SD Rushmore Helicopters is the original and longest operating helicopter tour service in the Black Hills. With exclusive National Park authorization, Rushmore Helicopters invited us to "stare into the granite faces of four iconic presidents on Mt. Rushmore National Memorial". Since we had been thwarted by the construction at the Memorial, we accepted their offer. Our pilot, Carrie, followed Buckeye Gulch down to give us a bird's eye view of the old mining town of Keystone where we are staying. Then we literally flew into the...

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Jun 27, 2020 - The 1880 Train

Keystone, SD The Black Hills mining boom began in 1874. Gold was discovered by Lt. Colonel George Custer. This started a gold rush and an invasion of the land. In the history of the American frontier, no other development was more influential than the railroad. It brought settlers and town-builders to areas that had been home to native tribes for centuries. The 1880 Train runs from Hill City to Keystone and back. It follows the original route of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad laid down in the late 1880s to service the mines...

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Jun 26, 2020 - Spring Creek/Flume trail

Keystone, SD The Rockerville Flume from the mining boom of the 1880s was used to carry water 20 miles, from Spring Creek to the placer diggings near Rockerville. The flume operated until 1885, and enabled miners to take over $20 million in gold. By definition, a flume is a narrow gorge or ravine with a stream running through it. It is where we chose to hike today. The trail follows the actual flume bed for much of its length. It was a beautiful day, a nice hike and a bit unique since we had to travel through a tunnel and cross several...

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Jun 25, 2020 - Wind Cave - sort of

Keystone, SD The first cave to be designated a national park anywhere in the world, Wind Cave National Park features the world's largest concentration of rare boxwork formations - approximately 95 percent of the world's discovered boxwork formations. The cave is recognized as the densest cave system in the world. Wind Cave is among the largest mapped caves in the world. 143 miles have been mapped to date. The first recorded finding of Wind Cave was in 1881. Jesse and Tom Bingham were attracted to the cave by a whistling noise. As the story...

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Jun 24, 2020 - Mount Rushmore - sort of

Keystone, SD Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore (granite erodes roughly 1 inch every 10,000 years). The sculpture features the 60-foot heads of Presidents George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation's birth, growth, development, and preservation, respectively. Money motivates most things - carving the likenesses of noted figures into the...

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Jun 23, 2020 - Custer State Park

Keystone, SD Today's adventure was Custer State Park. The park is home to a variety of wildlife and magnificent scenery spanning 71,000 acres. Nearly 1,300 bison roam the prairies and hills of the park, which they share with pronghorn, big horn sheep, elk and curious burros. We came with high hopes for all that wild life and ended up disappointed. We managed only 4 of those numerous bison, some antelope, 4 big horn sheep, deer, 11 wild burros and not a single elk. We saw beautiful country, however, ranging from treeless prairie to lush,...

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Jun 22, 2020 - Reptile Gardens

Keystone, SD Our goal today was Reptile Gardens. We were last there in 1980 and suspected there had been a few changes. Established in 1937, Reptile Gardens has more species and subspecies of reptiles than any other zoo or wild animal park in the world. Normally, in addition to the exhibits, the Gardens stages a number of shows: a bird program, alligator/crocodile show, and a snake program. Because of the pandemic, the shows are currently cancelled. When we visited 40 years ago, we were highly entertained by trained chickens that played...

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Jun 21, 2020 - Bear Country USA

Keystone, SD Our main focus today was Bear Country USA. As has been true everyday so far, we have had rain off and on. We were pleased as we figured it would make the bears more active. Boy were we right! At Bear Country USA, visitors take a leisurely three-mile drive through several enclosures and encounter black bear, elk, reindeer, deer, cougars, bobcats, rocky mountain goats, bighorn sheep, dall sheep, pronghorn and buffalo. It is “the home of the largest collection of privately owned black bear in the world” and, since one stays in...

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Jun 12, 2018 - The mighty conquerors!

Keystone, SD Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak) is the highest natural point in SD. It was named Harney Peak in 1855 in honor of US General William S. Harney. In punitive retaliation for other Sioux raids, in September 1855, Harney's forces killed Brulé Sioux warriors, women and children in what Americans called the Battle of Blue Water Creek. The Lakota had tried to get the name of the peak changed for 50 years, as Harney had massacred their people. They finally succeeded. A US post office was operated at Black Elk Peak from 1936 until...

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Jun 11, 2018 - Bison Jam

Keystone, SD Today was an explore day. Like all good tourists, we drove the Needles Highway. 14 miles long and finished in 1922, the highway is named after the high granite "needles" it winds among. We drove to Sylvan Lake, a lovely spot. The lake was featured in Disney's 2007 film National Treasure: Book of Secrets. We then spent some time in Custer State Park. The park is home to a herd of 1500 free roaming bison. We did not find all 1500 but we did find a substantial number – some of them causing a traffic jam as they seem to think they...

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