Our morning started off with brunch at the camper made of eggs, bacon and homemade waffles. Next we headed out on a drive up Needles Highway which runs north through Custer State Park.
This highway has two narrow one-way tunnels. The Iron Creek Tunnel was 8’ 9” wide and the second tunnel, Needle’s Eye Tunnel, was only 8’ wide. It was a tight fit, but we made it successfully without having to fold in the mirrors.
The rock formations along the highway resemble needles sticking up out of the mountains. Around every turn was a variety of rock formations. We felt so small driving next to some of these.
At the bottom of the mountain, we drove past Sylvan Lake. This was on my list of places to see. It was crazy busy so we didn’t stop (no parking spaces and too many people), but we did capture a few good pictures. The water looked like glass and flowed right up to the edge of the rocks.
From Sylvan Lake, we drove into Hills City, SD for a quick lunch. We found a nearby restaurant called Hubcap Diner and took our seats on the deck outside in the beautiful 73 degree weather! The kids colored pre-printed cars on the backs of their menus and got to hang them on the wall when they were finished – they’re famous!
We rounded out the loop back to Custer by stopping at Crazy Horse Memorial. This memorial is another carving into the mountainside to preserve the heritage of the Indians who occupied this area. In addition to the memorial, there was a museum with stories and a variety of memorabilia.
The work on the memorial began in the 1940s and is still in process today. You can see the face of Crazy Horse and the beginnings of his arm and horse’s head.
Inside the museum is a replica of the sculptor’s vision. The goal is that one day the finished memorial will look like it.
Just before we left a cold downpour of rain arrived and changed our initial plans to stop in downtown Custer. We decided to go back to the camper where the boys played with Legos and while we relaxed a little.
After the rain, we made a quick trip back into Custer for a few groceries and you guessed it…ice cream. The town has an ice cream parlor inside an old bank so the atmosphere was neat. Our friends, the Luffs, told us they stopped here on their visit so we had to check it out.
The boys liked seeing all the buffalo statues on the corners and asked to have their picture next to one before we left town for the night.
It was back to the camper again to snack for dinner and chill out before bed.