On the agenda today is Custer State Park Needles Highway Iron Mountain Road.
Custer State Park
We purchased the 7-day park pass, which is good at all South Dakota State Parks during your 7-day visit. Then headed into the park. We viewed the map and read some of the rules for the park.
Rules summary: don’t get too close to wildlife, don’t feed the wildlife, and whatever stupid things you do, you claim all responsibility for. Got it?
A drive around Sylvan Lake and then ventured further into the park. The only animals spotted were bison.
Needles Highway & Tunnels
The winding roads of the Needles Highway brought us plenty of smiles, laughs, and views of monstrous, towering spikes to look at. We stopped off at a number of lookouts along the way.
The one-lane tunnels and roads are exceptional to navigate and everyone patiently waited their turn to go through them. Along the road were turn-offs and outlooks that you could get out and take in the views around Custer State Park all while traveling the Needles Highway.
Toward the end of the 18 miles wildlife loop, we ran into a roadblock. Begging burros filled the roadway!
They were a huge hit among the visitors. We noticed that the reason that the burros went car to car was that people were feeding them. We did not.
They still stuck their heads into our car to say “hi” and check to be sure we didn’t have anything for them.
At The Visitors Center
On our way out of the park, we stopped at the visitor’s center. It was here we were told by the warden that we were in the minority for not feeding the burros and they do not regulate feeding them, as they do all additional wildlife. Well, it is more so they wish people wouldn’t. But, they overlook it. Guess who is bringing treats next trip around?
I spotted a mountain bluebird on one of the fence posts while exploring the grounds of the visitor center and got out my camera. As I was trying to get the shot when I heard what sounded like a deer snorting.
Those of you who hunt know the sound. I looked over my shoulder and there stood a massive bison. It stood there staring at me.
The warden came over and radioed additional park members that the herd would be on the move toward the visitor center. Then we both slowly walked back to the parking lot. At the lot, he was still staring me down.
According to our conversation, this was the “leader” of the herd. All additional bison follow his lead.
Iron Mountain Road
A few more tunnels, hairpin curves, and switchbacks are on this road. A pure blast to drive it. The views and overlooks did not disappoint either.
Thank you for joining us for the Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road section of the trip.