**another big set of pics, sorry to the dial-ups out there**

Day 8

Drove some more through Custer and the Blackhills down to Wind Caves. Then back into Custer for some hiking.

States: SD
Total Miles: 2925
Time Zones: still in Mountain, 3 total


This was my last full day in Custer National Park and the Blackhills of South Dakota. I can't describe how much fun it has been to drive all over the park, on road and off, for the last few days. I didn't want to leave.

Before heading out, I drove south to Wind Caves National Park. It is the first caves designated as a National Park by Teddy Roosevelt. I think they said something like 5% has been explored so far... 100miles of tunnels. Amazing. Interestingly, the Wind Cave tunnels run mostly in a northwest direction and Jewel Caves on the western side of the Blackhills run in a northeast direction kinda like this... /\ ... at the tip lays Mt. Rushmore. Wind Caves is not the most spectacular set of caves I've been in, they are very dry and lack Stalactites and mites, but they do have 2 formations one of which is quite unique to Wind Caves. It's called Boxwork. Below is a decent picture. The other formation is Popcorn, but I didn't get any good pictures of that stuff.

After Wind Caves, I headed back into Custer and hiked Little Devil's Tower and Cathedral Spires. Little Devil's Tower was fantastic. The view at the end at least. Much better than Harney Peak (which was fogged in). Pictures of the two hikes below.

One last look at Mt. Rushmore on a nicer day:

One thing I really liked was the thought put into the highway. Not only are the tunnels pretty neat, but most of them near Mt. Rushmore point at Mt. Rushmore. Thus, when I was halfway through this tunnel, the four Presidents were staring right at me.

I found the herd. Here's about 1/10 of what I could see.

This was a great time to come visit. Just about every animal I saw, I saw the baby version. These bison babies are really cute.

This one was either interested in my new car, or was playing a slow game of chicken.

And here's a pair fighting over the right to gore me first:

I think these things are called pronghorn:

On the way to Wind Caves... saw, oh I don't know, 200 prairie dogs, maybe more. Damn cute:

The Blackhills give way to some plains, on the way to Wind Caves:

The original entrance to Wind Caves. People actually crawled down in there in the 1880's...

Down we go:


Popcorn sprouts (was very hard taking pictures here, 90% were too dark or blurry):

I was amazed at the rocks on way up the Little Devil's Tower hike in Custer. Very rosy silica and a very gold mica or somesuch.

A fantastic view from the top:

Harney Peak, not covered in fog:

Another view:

On the Cathedral Spires hike. Lo and behold, a Cathedral-looking spire...

Just liked the way this picture came out:

More spires:

El fin, para hoy... żmas?

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