As promised, part II of the last post on South Dakota. Let’s start with Sylvan Lake, shall we?
The day we were here, it was in the 50s (Fahrenheit) and really windy. After high 80s in the Badlands, we weren’t ready for this and pretty much froze walking on the path below.
Don’t let the small waves fool you. The wind gusts were up to 60 mph.
The lake is surrounded by rock formations and ponderosa pine trees, and is located in Custer State Park. The wind carries the scent of pine and it’s wonderful.
Random fact: Sylvan Lake was featured in the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. The film made the lake appear to be located directly behind Mount Rushmore, when it’s actually five miles southwest of the monument.
I think the clouds look a bit like smoke signals here. . . .
The only problem with Sylvan Lake is getting there. You have to take a very narrow, winding road with sheer drop-offs (sometimes on both sides!). Just down the road from the lake is an area called The Needles with little tunnels like this:
If you’re thinking this tunnel looks kind of narrow, you’d be right. Only one car fits at a time, like this one.
That means you have to approach carefully and honk when you’re in the tunnel so cars on the opposite side know you’re in there. Luckily there’s space for backing up, which is exactly what someone had to do for us.
The Needles are named for rock formations that look like–you guessed it–needles. The most famous one looks like the eye of a needle.
The views of the surrounding hills are pretty nice too.
You will often see ponderosa pines growing in rock.
We drove through Custer State Park and saw this by the side of the road:
Although the terms buffalo and bison are used synonymously, the scientific name for the “buffalo” found in America is bison. The true buffalo are found in Asia or Africa and belong to a different family.
You can take Jeep rides through Custer State Park and see hundreds of them if you want. We just didn’t have time.
But we did see this beauty:
All too quickly, we were back at the Rapid City airport with this view of the Black Hills.
Oh, by the way, the Black Hills are actually mountains, and Harney Peak, the highest point is 7,244 feet (2,208 m). That makes it the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. The Lakota named them the Black Hills (“Pahá Sapá”) because they looked dark from a distance.
Hope you all had a good weekend. . . .