Sunday, November 13, 2016

Summer 2016 Road Trip: Stage 9

Custer State Park, Needles Highway, and Hill City 1880 Train Ride

One of the things the grands enjoyed most about our road trip was the numerous animals we saw. It is amazing how many different varieties of birds there were! Plus, watching the prairie dogs was thoroughly entertaining. We saw elk, mountain goats, several varieties of deer, a moose in Colorado, and of course the buffalo. One of our all time favorites was spending time with the Begging Burros in Custer Park.
Believe it or not, there is a granddaughter inside that sleeping bag.
Sleeping with Sophie is like sleeping with a mule!

One of several prairie dog communities we saw in South Dakota
and Wyoming.

They built their mounds in the most unsafe areas! Sometimes
in the middle of dirt roads. Crazy!!

Maggie petting one of the begging burros! 

The park rangers tell you not to feed the wild life. There are signs
everywhere reminding you not to feed them. But, the behavior of these
animals indicated that most people don't follow the rules!

The girls thought the burros were so funny!

They sure do make the burros in Texas look small. This guy was
as big as Leslie's "not a van."
I think I want one for the yellow house.

Our first herd of buffalo!

We didn't get very close to the herd, but that was fine with me!
They are HUGE!

Not quite sure what these were, but they were all over the place.

In the visitor's center at Custer Park.

This display would show you where the herds were located.

Ducks and geese were in several ponds in the area.

I guess this guy was one of the older ones from the herd.
He was near the visitor's center.

After we left Custer Park, we braved the Needles Highway. It is a twisting highway made up of countless switchbacks and narrow mountain passes. I think we all had a few bouts of car sickness. I was really worried about Seth because he's always had problems with getting sick on winding roads. Luckily, no one threw up, we made it through each narrow pass, and saw some beautiful rock formations.

The passes through the mountains on Needles Highway were
enough to scare the poo out of you!

The road twisted and turned through these granite spires! 

Some of them were breathtakingly tall 

We took a few short stops along the highway so the
kids could get the wiggles out and let the waves of
car sickness pass!

I think the girls were loving the chance to climb the rocks.

And yet another tiny pass.
We took an evening train ride that ran between Keystone and Hill City. It started at the cutest, restored train depot, traveled through the abandoned mining communities of the Black Hills, and stopped for a short layover before a return trip. The cafe at the train depot served the cutest Hobo meals, wrapped up in a bandana.

Ordering a Hobo meal...

Maggie and Sophie waiting for the train...

The water tank that fills the steam engine...

One of the cars on the train...

The gift shop in Hill City

Leslie and Maggie in front of Scott and Sophie

My seat buddy, Seth

We had a loaded train on the way out!
The train ride went through several abandoned mining communities. If I remember correctly, one of the tour guides on the train said that some of the land parcels were still owned by descendants of the early miners.  It was a beautiful and enjoyable ride.

One of many abandoned mining communities...

An original mine entrance...

Our mid point layover was a typical tourist town. Lots of shops selling Black Hills Gold, tee shirts, Native American products, and imported junk.  I enjoyed sitting on one of the covered benches along the main street with Seth. We watch so many people from different countries walk by! It was strange to hear them speaking to one another in so many languages. There was a lot of pedestrian and auto traffic through the town but it still had a lazy and relaxed atmosphere.

Our engine being refuel in Keystone for the return trip

Scott, Leslie, Maggie, and Sophie doing some shopping...

One of the local characters cracking a bull whip
while walking up and down the center of traffic...

Seth and his I Survived the Needles Highway shirt...

Another train pulling into the station...

The ride back was much more enjoyable because the
train was less crowded and the temperatures had cooled off. 

Sophie and her bear backpack!



By the time we got back to town, we were pretty tired from a full day. We topped it off with an over priced meal and a "Bavarian" restaurant and dessert by the campfire with toasted marshmallows. 

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