Leaving the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary we made one brief stop at Crystal Falls and headed north to have our “official” Mount Rushmore experience as opposed to our “Accidental” visit when we first got here.
As we approached Custer State Park we were treated to a majestic buck and his entourage. I pulled over and grabbed the camera. That buck wasn’t intimidated at all. In fact, as I came around the car to get a better angle he actually stepped forward, head up as if he were challenging me. He stood and stared while I took picture after picture before he turned and led his little band off.
As I returned to the car I noticed for the first time that we had company. Other cars had pulled over to watch this brazen buck. As I returned to the car, the other cars pulled out and passed me. I collected their waves and thumbs up with pleasure.
Back in the car we soon came to the entrance to Custer State Park. Going left into the Park would take us on the Wildlife Loop Road that we toured with Dan and going right would take us up Iron Mountain Road to Mount Rushmore. So today it was a right turn for us.
Iron Mountain Road is part of RT 16A and The Norbeck Scenic Byway which also includes the Loop road and Needles Highway. The road climbs steeply up the mountain through one lane tunnels, be sure you honk your horn, over pigtail bridges and around horseshoe curves. The pigtail bridges are really interesting as they go over their own road so as we went over the bridge we could look down on the cars that were following us up the mountain.
The tunnels are lined up so that they frame Mount Rushmore and it’s tempting to stop for a photo op. I’m sure some people do but that day the traffic was very steady and it didn’t seem safe to stop. Needless to say, I have no pictures of this drive. I had both hands on the wheel and Sandy was white-knuckled in the passenger seat. She doesn’t like heights and this road was playing right into her worst phobias. I think anyone prone to car sickness should avoid this route too but I had a great timeJ We saw some RV’s trying it on for size and I suppose if your really careful and have good brakes that you’ll be fine but I wouldn’t do it. I’d leave the RV at home and rent a car for the day to make the drive.
At the top of the mountain is The Norbeck Observation Point. It has a well paved parking lot and rest rooms. There’s a trail down to an observation deck with awesome views. It was really cold up there on the mountain so we didn’t linger for too long. Besides, we had a date with 4 handsome men on a mountain.
I am adding 1 more picture to this post even though it’s more of an “aside”. As we headed to Iron Mountain Road we spotted a field with both antelope and deer. It was the first time I had noticed both together like that and all I could think of was the song Home Home on the Range and the line..”where the deer and the antelope play”. So I just wanted to share.
For more information and and couple of photos of Iron Mountain Road, I have included a link. http://www.allblackhills.com/scenic_drives/iron_mountain_road.php