Friday, August 5, 2011

More Black Hills adventure

After we went to the Mt Rushmore monument yesterday, we decided to drive down the Iron Mountain Road into Custer State Park.   Like many of the roads in the Park, this one isn't the newest or the widest road that you have ever driven.

The trail was first finished sometime in the 1930s and has tunnels thru the mountains that are quite narrow.  As you approach, they ask you to sound your horn so folks on the opposite end will know you are entering.  I did have to back out of one of the tunnels as folks were coming from the other end.

You can't see into the tunnel as they are around a curve as you enter.  The roads are so narrow that the lanes are split into two roads some distance apart.  The asphalt might be 9 feet wide  on the single lanes.  But the scenery is outstanding.   There were very few places to park the car so I didn't get pictures.

The other unusual thing we encountered was pig tail bridges.  I am used to hair pin turns to climb a mountain, from Colorado where that is normal.  But here they built a bridge to higher elevations where you drive under the bridge and then looping in a steep climb cross over the bridge you just went under.  Thus they are shaped like a pig's tail.

We went on thru the park after paying the user fee at the far end of the drive.  $15 for a week pass.  So to leave we took the needles road.  Again this is narrow, but follows a passage thru the rocky inclines for miles to the Northwest.  The rocks are in the form of spires, or needles reaching far above your head.

On this drive we encountered even tighter tunnels thru the mountains.  At the narrowest the tunnel was listed as 8 ft 4 inches.  And only 12 feet tall.  It was spooky with the car........  But, there were tour buses that were loaded with people.  I mean full sized buses, and I went thru just ahead of one of them.  He had to back up several times and get himself aligned just right in order to drive straight thru. He couldn't have turned more than an inch or so and he would have hit the walls.  Loyce and I thought it was crazy, but of course that is part of the ambiance of the bus ride........

We drove South from there into the town of Custer.  Loyce had spotted a quilt shop, and I was marooned in the car as it began to rain.  I mean really rain, with a bunch of hail too.   Not large enough to do damage, but it scared poor Biscuit out of her wits.  The roads ran like rivers as we made our way North past Crazy Horse to the campground in Rapid City.

I should explain that here in the Black Hills, when it is Sturgis Motor Cycle Rally week there are no campgrounds that are not booked.  None for 150 miles, as I was told on the phone when I was looking for places to stay.  I managed to book the KOA using the online reservation system after I was told no vacancy on the phone.  But just for two nights, and I had to take the most expensive site available.

I went on to reserve two more nights at the Mt Rushmore KOA right outside of the memorial.  Again I had to take the premium site, and the price was even higher.  And for Friday, it had a premium added for bike week.  Plus a resort fee, and a sur charge for our dog each night.  Remember there is nothing available for miles.

I was told at the KOA in Rapid City that bike week was booked a year ago, and that I had slipped in on a cancellation.  But with all this fun, we had to move down here to the Hill City KOA this morning.

We left the CG at about 10:30 and drove down to Custer, because we were too early to check in to Mt Rushmore.  Loyce shopped at the local grocery for about an hour, as we stalled around.  But we were paid on line, and we just signed the credit slip and were shown to our site.

This is the most premium KOA I have ever stayed at with Horses for trail rides and water slides and so many activities I can't remember them all.  Kids abound, buzzing around on those little recumbent bikes with the big flags sticking out of the back.  Remember the parks were all full.........

Retired Rod


  1. We may roll into that area on our way west in a few months. I missed Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Monument, the Black Hills etc the last time through there.

  2. Have lunch at the winery in Hill City--the name I can't remember but the food was great!

  3. We stayed at the Mt. Rushmore KOA when we were there a few years ago. It was just before the Sturgis Rally and it was packed. I remember the rate being pretty hefty but with all there was to see in the area, we didn't mind paying a premium for a 4 day stay.

    Have fun touring the area.


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