7/05/2011

Custer State Park and Jewel Cave

So, while in Custer, one of the best experiences (IMHO) is Custer State Park -- absolutely beautiful place!  In the park itself, there are winding byways, "improved" gravel roads for that backcountry feeling, awe-inspiring vistas of the black hills, lots of wildlife (including buffalo) as well as lakes and streams.

In addition, you have Jewel Cave, currently the 2nd longest cave in the world (I've often wondered if Wind Cave and Jewel Cave are connected, as they are only like 20 or so miles apart, but apparently it's "unlikely").  Anyway, I preferred Wind Cave over Jewel Cave (not that it matters, unless you can only see ONE of them), but it was interesting non the less.  Jewel Cave is "newer" in that it was only recently discovered and incorporated into the National Park System (I believe it is currently a Monument rather than an actual park), and this newness is evident in the nice metal steps, scaffolding and "disney-esqe" pristine-ness of the tour (as opposed to Wind Cave where you feel like Indiana Jones -- constantly ducking and watching your head and you slide sideways through narrow openings and low ceilings.

View of the Black Hills inside Custer State Park.

More views from one of the scenic outlooks.

A buffalo (there's actually a whole series of photos of it rolling around in the dirt).

A beautiful old stone bridge within the park.

Some prairie dogs doing their thing -- there's actually whole fields of them "chirpping" away!

A momma deer and a few fawns.

In the second highest "peak" in South Dakota (within the park) there's an old fire watch tower (still in use) that you can look out over the hills (quite an interesting drive up to it if you're in a large tow vehicle).


Here's the view from the top!

More views from the top!

Last one from the top.

Jewel Cave entrance.

Somewhere within the cave.

A photo of the striation in the rocks.

I don't remember what they're actually called, but my kids thought that these looked just like Davey Jone's face from the Pirates movies!




2 comments:

Funny descriptive; "disney-esqe". To some a huge compliment (as in this post) and to others a derogatory.

Frank, its funny that you said that, but that's actually the reason I didn't like it! Coming from me (and for those of you who don't know I love Disney World) I prefer my "nature" to be more "real" -- I expect certain things while at Disney -- I don't necessarily expect that from a cave in the middle of SD -- hence the reason why we liked Wind Cave so much more!

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