Custer State Park, South Dakota.











We spent a total of ten nights at Custer State Park leading up to their annual buffalo roundup. We ended up rotating leaving the park and staying. We camped at Sylvan Lake which is at the northwestern corner, and oddly seems like an afterthought when you look at a map. Almost like it was acquired later? Anyhow, it’s way up and gorgeous. Our site was basically among the ponderosa forest with giant rock pile views when looking up.

While there we hiked the Little Devil’s Tower hike, which was over 4 miles and up, up, up. In fact, the “trail” became spray paint arrows across large rock zones. With 8 and 11 year olds everybody coped just fine. Of course there were the tired complaints from them, but when they started scaling the rocks not a peep. On the other hand that’s when Dear Husband and I started to grumble. You see, we aren’t 8 and 11! Anyhow, like most things that are hard to do and might push us outside our comfort zones, the reward was fantastic. Look at that boy in the bottom pic! It’s like he climbed Everest. My older boy climbed up even higher for some selfie shots. Dear Husband and I looked down the rock and pondered how we’d be able to climb down without snapping an ankle. We made it out just fine and declared it the best family hike ever.

We were also thrilled that Dear Husband read Sylvan Lake, just near us, was featured in the movie National Treasure 2, in the scene where they are shaking water on the granite to change the rocks and look for the noble bird. Well, we found that spot! We watched the movie that night, then hiked back again to analyze what was doctored and what was real. (The hole Nick Cage puts his hand in to pull open the lever, it’s real!) In fact the boys made me film them reenacting the scenes.

The bike trail was not great. We ended up so coated with small gnatty bugs. We couldn’t even open our mouths and talk while pedaling because of the thick bug fog. We tried. Also, the buffalo roundup was disappointing. It seemed a bit unorganized and sadly dull. I think if I was a cowboy, it would be cooler. It looked like cattle, moving slowly. Not great.

The animals were pretty fun though. Little Fella snagged my camera plenty of times this trip and snapped over 100 pics of one prairie dog. The prairie dog was quite a poser. He kept coming closer and closer until I freaked out and told my squatting son to stand up suddenly to let the guy know his true size. I was afraid that thing was going to sit in his lap! I may have over-reacted, but I know wild animals are unpredictable.

We had a great trip, perhaps a family best, but that may be because life is dominated by house building at home which leaves no free time. That’s okay. I’ll take the happy trip either way.

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