Take me back to the black hills
The black hills of Dakota
To the beautiful Indian country
That I love.
Lost my heart in the black hills
The black hills of Dakota
Where the pines are so high
That they kiss the sky above.
And when I get that lonesome feelin’
And I’m miles away from home
I hear the voice of the mystic mountains
Callin’ me back home.
Doris Day and Howard Keel had it right. South Dakota’s Black Hills have just about anything you could want in a nature get-away. Clear skies, natural beauty, engineering marvels, and yes, of course, the Buffalo.
If you ever get the chance to visit South Dakota’s Black Hills…and you MUST visit the Black Hills…here are a few of the highlights you’ll want to see.
1. Wildlife Loop Road
If you love wildlife as much as I do, Wildlife Loop Road is one place you want to be. An 18 mile strech of road that twists and turns through Custer State Park, you’re bound to see buffalo and a friendly family of burro.
- As many as 1,500 Buffalo roam freely through Custer State Park.
- Buffalo once numbered in the millions in North America, but by 1900 fewer than 1,000 remained on the entire continent.
- Each September, all of the Buffalo are rounded up and several hundred auctioned off to prevent over-population.
- The “begging” burros in Custer State Park come from a line of work burros released into the park.
2. Needles Highway
Wind your way through pine forests and granite mountains on this 14 mile stretch of road. Just make sure to pull over near Needles Eye and enjoy the scenery. And take a little extra time to make friends with all of the chipmunks around.
- Needles Highway was thought to be an impossible feat when construction began in 1919.
- About 150,000 pounds of dynamite was used for the contruction.
- Needles Eye reaches 40 feet high with a 3 foot wide “eye.”
3. Mount Rushmore
You can believe the hype when it comes to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It is just as breathtaking in person as you might hope. Give yourself plenty of time to walk the Presidential Trail and soak it all in.
- It took 14 years to complete Mount Rushmore.
- Each president was chosen to represent an era in American history – Washington (birth), Jefferson (expansion), Lincoln (preservation), Roosevelt (development).
- 90% of the carving was done using dynamite (about 450,000 tons of granite was blasted away).
- Washington’s nose is about 21 feet high from top to bottom.
- Thomas Jefferson was originally carved to George Washington’s right. The designers changed their mind and blasted him off before carving him to Washington’s left.
I don’t know how else to say it. The Black Hills of South Dakota blew me away. I was only there for a day and I fell in love.