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Category Archives: South Dakota

We drove the Wildlife Loop several times during our visit to Custer State Park.  Of course the main attraction were the Buffalo. Our visit was a couple of weeks before the roundup and we were surprised to find most of the buffalo hanging out in the roundup parking lot or around the buffalo pens. That would have made the roundup easy but then there wouldn’t have been anything for the tourists to see.

We did see a number of Pronghorns during our visit. The first photo shows one chasing a female. The female had run across the road a few minutes before and he was right behind her.

No visit would be complete without a photo of the Prairie Dogs.

The burros were hanging around in the same area as the Buffalo. It’s funny, when the roundup starts the burros are always in hanging around the Buffalo but they usually head for the hills just before it starts.

Driving through in the evening we were able to see a number of deer.

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We try to hike to Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak) when we are in the Black Hills. It was a beautiful day and relatively cool so we decided to make the hike. The fall leaves were nearing their beak color.

On the way to the top we encountered a number of deer on the trail. The couple behind us had to restrain their dog when this one jumped across the trail.

There were still a variety of flowers out. I captured this Bluebell.

There was some graffiti along the trail. This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this.

To native Americans Black Elk Peak is a sacred site. In the past we have seen offerings but they seemed to have increased in recent years.

The views from the top of the Peak are spectacular.

Beautiful views on the trip down from the top.

In late September we spent several days in Custer State Park. While driving the Wildlife Loop we ran across the begging burros. It was good to see them because a number of them died in the fire that raced through the park last December.

 

We drove up to Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park to start our hike to Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak). When we arrived there was almost no wind and the lake was just like a mirror. Before starting our hike we walked over to the lake to get some stunning photos. More photos from Custer State Park can be found on my website.

 

We have visited Sioux Falls S.D. a number of times but never visited the Sertoma Butterfly House. I had it on my list for this trip. It was a great place to spent a couple of hours photographing butterflies.

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They also have some Button Quail running around. You had to watch your step because they were always underfoot. It turns out they have an important role to play. Apparently they eat the ants who prey on the butterflies.

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There are a fair number of Bighorn Sheep in the Badlands. We were very fortunate to see them when we were driving west and again on our return trip. On the way out we saw them late in the evening running around one of the rock formations. They were silhouetted against the sky but it was too dark to get a shot of them. The next morning we drove out into the same area. They tend to hang out around the east end of the main road at the first pull off. I captured a couple of shots of a lamb running around alongside of the road.

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We came back through a couple of weeks later. When we drove out to photograph the sunset we found several rams along the road.

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The next morning I decided that there would not be a great sunrise because there were not going to be any clouds. As a result we arrived at the first pull off after sunrise. We were fortunate to find a small herd of ewes and lambs along the road.

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We spent the morning driving through the park before having lunch at Cedar Pass. After lunch we exited the park but not before capturing a group of rams near the eastern trailheads.

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Begging Burros

One of the things we do every time we are in Custer, S.D. is to hike to the top of Harney Peak. I’m getting a little long in the tooth to be doing it but we met a fellow who was hiking to the top who was 90 years old and hikes to the top every year on his birthday.

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This is a sacred place to the Native Americans so you will see offerings near at the top of the peak.

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Several times when we have been at the top we have encountered Mountain Goats.

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A stone fire lookout tower is located at the top of the peak.

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After hiking to the Crazy Horse Memorial we drove back to Custer for lunch before driving out to Wind Cave National Park. I had hike the East Bison Flats Trail several times in the past and found it an easy trail with buffalo bones along the trail.

The trail starts on a road east of the Wind Cave Visitors Center before heading into the grasslands.

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It looked like the area had recently been burned and the grass was short and very green. There a large number of wildflowers out and the bees were on almost every flower.

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The Scarlet Globe Mallow seemed to be a favorite of the Prairie dogs.

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We were having a great time on the hike but as we looked back we could hear lightning and see rain clouds so we reluctantly turned around. My wife is standing by one of the new trail markers. It the past they used a flimsy trail marker that was frequently missing. Now they have posts in the ground that should stand up and are easy to see. From the looks of it the Buffalo use it as a scratching post.

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As I mentioned it looked like a fire had gone through the area not too long ago. A lot of the trees had turned brown. When we returned to the visitors center we found out that the Park Service had a controlled burn in the west flats but the fire had jumped the road and also burned the east flats. They were able to control it to the park. After the burn the wildflowers and grass came back quickly. The buffalo were having a great time feeding on the new grass.

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The genesis for our western trip was our desire to participate in the 2015 Crazy Horse Volksmarch. The rest of our western trip was filler around this event.

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Given the weather we weren’t sure if we would be able to make the volksmarch. It had rained and stormed the evening before but things looked good the next morning so we decided to give it a try. There were already quite a few people at the starting line when we arrived.

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The sun was out and it was a little too warm for my liking but it was a beautiful morning. The hike was supposed to 10 kilometers although it didn’t feel that long. The trail headed off through the woods in the opposite direction from the Memorial. As we found out later there is a nice road to the top and it would be a relatively short walk.

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It wasn’t long before we were heading back toward the memorial and could see it through the trees.

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We finally came out of the trees and walked the rest of the way on a road. By this time the sun was beating down on the road and it was getting warm. Folks were starting to look for a shady place to stop. At this point we started to encounter the fast hikers returning from the top.

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At the top I took a few photos of the memorial from the arm of Crazy Horse. The last time we made the hike was about 16 years ago. It’s difficult to see what progress has been made although regardless of whether or not is completed it brings in a lot of money. I took a photo of the studio and visitors center which also shows the road back on the left.

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The walk back to the visitors center was much easier and much shorter. It was the access road to the Memorial. All along the route there was equipment that was or is currently being used on the mountain.

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More photos can be found on my website.

We spent the night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The next morning was dreary but we decided to drive down to Falls Park to get some photos of the waterfalls. It was dark enough that the lights were still on in the park.

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