I didn’t much care for the Black Hills of South Dakota at first. That was in the
mid-fifties when I first traveled and camped there with my parents. The Bad
Lands were bad, hot and dusty. Wall Drug, famous throughout the land, as a
tourist Mecca was just that. Crowded and chintzy. There were junky stores
everywhere. And later gambling at Deadwood was not my thing.
For years my
brothers and later sons and I zipped on by the Hills on our way to the fabled
fly fishing streams of southwestern Montana. No time for traffic jams and
tourist traps for us.
And then one
Easter vacation in the new century, with a new camper in hand, we, the empty
nesters, decided a short trip to the Black Hills would be a just in order. It
was a late Easter that year and the weather in Minnesota was mild and sunny.
Highs in the mid fifties. We weren’t tenting anymore and the new camper had a
furnace. We imagined the crowds wouldn’t be to bad. Heck, I might even try some
We made camping reservations at a place named Custer Mountain Campground. Naturally, it
was a mile or two from Custer, South Dakota on the southern edge of the Black
Hills. When we arrived the temperature was a balmy 75 degrees. Even more
surprising the campground with 60 sites, 4 camper cabins and 5 new luxury
cabins had only one other camper.
informed us we were " a little early in the season." After discussing
things to do, we took his recommendation to drive the Custer State Park
"loop road." We did the next day. In July and
August the road might have hundreds cars checking out the beautiful vistas and
wildlife. On this first occasion though it was magical. For hours we had it all
to ourselves. There was wildlife everywhere. I fell in love right then and
there. The owner
informed us we were " a little early in the season Since then we have made
it a habit to visit the fabled Black Hills at least once a year. The joys of
retirement living now make it possible for us to pick either spring or fall.
The magic never goes away. A couple of years back our son and grandson came up
from Colorado to join us for a week of camping. This summer again on the way to
Montana we stopped in the Hills for a few days with our friends Gary and Rosie
and drove through Custer State Park. It was as beautiful as ever…..