Custer State Park

We camped two nights in Custer State Park, but our first night was largely just getting set up, making some dinner (Asian noodles, tofu, and broccoli), and playing with the football we had for the camping area.

The day we marked for exploring was awesome, but the kids’ moods were all over the place. I think the long days of driving had caught up to us! We started with a drive on Iron Mountain Road. Custer State Park is famous for the roads with one lane tunnels blasted through the granite in the early 1900s. On our way, we encountered a Buffalo Traffic Jam! So exciting! Iron Mountain was a cool drive, because the very narrow tunnels frame Mount Rushmore so as you go through the tunnel, you see an unobstructed view. There were pigtail bridges, too!

Mount Rushmore was fine, not my favorite place ever, but interesting enough. Definitely felt like a highlight of the 1950s. We did a little hike to the gallery view and several people refused to take pictures, so it was one of those visits! Our next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial, and we actually had a great time looking at the museum and studying the different materials used by tribes in different regions of the country. After a bit we went to see a talk and dance demonstration by a Lakota and Dakota family. Jessie introduced her children and told the story of the Lakota and Dakota nations on the Great Plains. The five year old girl danced the hoop dance, and she was fantastic! Then Jessie and her 14 year old daughter danced the Jingle Dress Dance, which I just learned about from The Firekeeper’s Daughter as an Anishinaabe tradition. It was neat to see! The kids learned a ton, but they were hungry, and we moved on. Most of the food options in Custer were closed! That was a bummer because we were driving a really, really narrow drive back, called Needles Highway. One spot was only 8 feet wide! So we went back to the campground to eat lunch, but it was 3:00 by then, so we took downtime in camp. Harlan and I took a shower and it was hilarious how much fun he was having in the water.  We made a fire and called it a night. The next day, we got up early to take more showers, pack up camp, and get ready to drive through Wyoming to Montana!

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