September 22 - Custer State Park, South Dakota, Game Lodge campground, Day 1.
It was back to the usual early morning rising today, though not with quite as long a drive ahead of us. We saw lots of pronghorns and some farmed bison on the way to Rapid City. We had to stop first at yet another NAPA Auto Parts (4th one?) to pick up a set of chains for the van. We may not need them but since our tires are getting pretty worn down, they just might be useful if winter shows up before we get home. Plus a few groceries were in order as well. Then it was on up into the Black Hills on the road toward Mt. Rushmore. The weather wasn't fabulous with fog in the high places so it's a good thing we saw the famous mountain before because we only caught a tiny glimpse. Instead we headed down the very fun Iron Mountain Highway with the pigtail twists and tiny one-lane tunnels. I didn't get any photos for you because I was too busy recording videos with Thom's iPhone for him!
We had reserved a campsite online which is the only way to do it apparently, unless you phone a reservation in. Dumb system but at least you know you have a spot. The campground is small but very nice and the cottonwoods and aspens were showing their full golden leaves in honour of autumn. After we checked out the new visitors centre across the way and watched their film about the park we got settled in. The paved Creekside Trail was a tempting walk too:
September 23 - Custer State Park, SD, Day 2.
It was raining and foggy the next morning, our second day in Custer. We decided to take the Wildlife Loop Road that began very close to our campground. The trees colours were even more intense though some of the views were obscured by the misty rain and fog:
September 24 - Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site, Wyoming.
Today is going to be a very tough one to write up since it feels like we stuffed at least 3 days into one! We started at our usual early hour and drove up the Needles Scenic Highway. Our first encounter (besides the inevitable turkeys) was a lone female bison in the woods. I tried to take a photo but she flipped around and growled at us so we were forced to keep moving before she decided to butt heads with our van! Too close. Sorry, hon'. The road was nothing short of amazing in the morning sunshine:
Once we got to Spearfish we ended up on the I-90 heading ever west. The weather deteriorated again and became rainy and windy making it not much fun to drive in. Kind of a let-down after so much beautiful scenery. But that's not all! After Buffalo, Wyoming, we headed up into the Bighorn Mountains on what was supposed to be another scenic byway. This is what we got:
And that's not all! We headed north from Ten Sleep and into the sagebrush and farmland to our final destination. It took us all day but we were surprised to find a lovely little campground as well as a fabulous stone cliff with petroglyphs and pictographs, layered on each other: