Hike to the top of Harney Peak. It is the highest point in elevation between the Rockies and the Pyrenees. The elevation is 7242 ft. above sea level.
The roundtrip hike will take a couple of hours, so make sure you bring water, and some snacks to enjoy up at the top, the view is great.
Here is a picture of the view from the top, I am that little speck in the middle of the photo.
South Dakota, and especially Custer State Park is a great place to mountain bike. There are a number of great trails, including the 110-mile Centennial trail. The trails range from moderate to very technical on the Centennial Trail, if you are looking for a fun ride the whole family can do, try the nearby Mickelson Trail, it is old converted railroad bed, so it is not very steep, but still quite scenic.
It is difficult to convey the size and scale of this incredible project. Even when looking from the visitor center viewing platform, it is difficult to comprehend that this massive sculpture is a mile away.
But imagine this - an estimated 4,000 people could stand atop Crazy Horse's outstretched arm. And all four presidents' heads at Mount Rushmore could fit in his head. The feather alone will stand stand 44 feet.
Local tribesmen provide entertainment in the form of traditional dancing on the observation desk. Future plans include a North American Indian museum, a university and medical training center, all to be built on the land between the visitor center and the monument.
(Note - we were pleasantly surprised to meet friends from church at home while watching this performance.)
In another area of the visitor center grounds, these highly skilled Indian musicians were performing songs which I believed to be traditional (I know little about Indian music), but with contemporary elements. The result was some hauntingly beautiful music.
This place is affordable. It is only $4.00 per person and comes with a tape recorder as to what you are looking at as you go through it. It is built in the site of an old city where there was also a fort at one time. It get's it's name from the fact that this watering whole is 4 miles from Custer. There is a great deal of history on the tape and to look at. It has more potential than what is there. Much needs to continue to be fixed up and organized. But what they have so far is fun. Little ones are given a badge as they go in and sometimes they deputize them if they are old enough. The sheriff checks on you during the tour to make sure the adults are behaving themselves and points out the jail.
The whole thing is done with a great sense of humor! It is a great ghost town.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful lakes in South Dakota, Sylvan Lake offers spectacular recreational opportunities with a serene ambiance. The lake is nestled at the base of Harney Peak, and surrounded by impressive rounded rock formations and ponderosa pine trees. The unique rock formations surrounding the lake were formed in the same manner as the Needles: igneous and metamorphic rocks were uplifted, and weather has since shaped the rocks into their current form. The Needles spires are sharper and more pointy than the rocks around Sylvan Lake because the Needles were formed as closely spaced joints. The rounded forms of granite around the lake, on the other hand, were produced by widely spaced joints. Once at Sylvan Lake, take a swim, test your fishing skills, or go kayaking or canoeing. If you do not have your own water craft, you can rent one at the general store. The beaches also provide an excellent place to sunbathe in the summer. We had hours of fun on Sylvan Lake.
We stopped along Needles Highway Scenic Drive to take photographs of the scenery and animals. We got out climbing the rocks and viewing scenery from varied vantage points.
The 14 mile route threads through the oddly shaped, weathered granite spires from which the highway derives its name. Several hairpin curves are encountered, as are narrow tunnels. The tunnel dimensions are 12 feet by 8 feet, 4 inches and 12 feet, 3 inches by 9 feet. Note: Due to the narrowness of the route, those with large trailers or motor homes should use extreme caution. Allow 1 hour minimum.
The Park Rangers were so knowledgeable & informative we were impressed. They shared maps and specific directions of where to locate each animal. We found ourselves surrounded by a herd of bison, in a praire dog community, feeding a burro, very close to deer & antelopes. It was a wonderful time!
Park open daily 24 hours. Park headquarters open Mon.-Fri. 7:30-5. Nature programs are scheduled Memorial Day-Labor Day; phone ahead for schedule.
A 7-day license is available for $5 per person or $12 per private vehicle. Annual license $23 per private vehicle ($11.50 for second vehicle)
Custer State Park, 5 mi. e. on US 16A, comprises 71,000 acres of the South Dakota Black Hills and is the habitat of one of the world's largest free-roaming bison herds, numbering about 1,500. More than 180 bird species also inhabit the park. Three scenic drives traverse the area: Needles Highway/SR 87, Wildlife Loop Road and Iron Mountain Road (US 16A). The Wildlife Visitor Center, Wildlife Loop Road, and the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center, 15 miles east of Custer City on US 16A, offer exhibits and information about the state. More than 60 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails are available, and the park's mountain streams and four man-made lakes provide fishing, swimming and boating opportunities. Guided nature walks and other programs are offered.
The pharoahs would be proud of this gargantuan project to create the world's largest sculpture as a memorial to the proud warrior who epitomized Native American culture and life on the frontier. "Make no small plans" - indeed!
Actually, the artistic monument is only one part of an ambitious overall scheme. If all goes according to plan, eventually there will be a major medical center, schools and a university, housing, cultural facilities, and an entire permanent community here.