Thursday, July 14, 2016

South Dakota Black Hills and Wildlife Loop

Following five nights celebrating our family reunion in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we joined our younger daughter's family on a road trip back to Illinois. We entered South Dakota by way of Wyoming en route to Blue Bell in the Black Hills of Custer State Park. 

We occupied adjacent cabins in a Ponderosa woodland at Blue Bell Lodge, just off the famous Wildlife Loop:

Blue Bell Schneider 24 Cabin rear 20160616

Anxious to tour the Loop before dark, we made 6:00 PM dinner reservations at the restaurant but waited over an hour before being served. The food was wonderful despite the terrible service. There was no time to drive the Loop's entire 18 miles, but the wildlife viewing was spectacular.

Hundreds of American Bison wandered freely along the road. Fences and cattle guards control their rotation between huge grazing grounds:

Bison herd HDR 20160618

Bison 01-20160616

American Bison 20160618

Pronghorn Antelopes abounded:

Pronghorn Antelope on ridge 20160616

Pronghorn Antelope 02-20160616

As dusk approached, White-tailed Deer became more numerous. Many of the does had fawns:

Whitetail Deer fawn nursing 20160616

Whitetail Deer fawn 2-20160616

Whitetail Deer fawn following mother 20160616

Ten-point buck in velvet:

Whitetail Deer 10-point buck 2-20160616

Feral Donkeys, descendants of Wild Asses released by early settlers, approached our auto, apparently looking for treats offered by tourists despite prohibitions against feeding the wildlife:

Wild Ass with suckling foal 20160616

Wild Ass with suckling foal 2-20160616

All too soon, darkness descended and we made our way back to the cabins. This was the scene a little after sunset, under a waxing Strawberry Moon. This is the Algonquin Indian name for the full Moon in June. This year it coincided with the Summer Solstice, a "once-in-a-lifetime" event. (Better make that "twice in my lifetime" as the last time this happened was in 1967 but the next will not occur until 2062):

Strawberry Moon over Wildlife Loop HDR 20160616

Birding was not a main pursuit, but during a brief walk around the cabins I found Red-breasted Nuthatches:

Red-breasted Nuthatch 02-20160616

Red-breasted Nuthatch 03-20160616

Early the nex morning, A Wild Turkey with five poults walked next to a neighboring cabin...

Wild Turkey hen and 5 poults 20160617

Wild Turkey hen and poults 20160617

Wild Turkey poults 20160617

...and a Cottontail Rabbit huddled near the road, perhaps thinking I could not see it:

Cottontail Rabbit 20160617

While I was taking in the beauty of a mountain stream which ran by the Lodge, a deer suddenly crossed the water towards me:

Whitetail Deer young buck 20160616

On the way to our next destination, we drove the length of Needles Highway, a winding road through magnificent rock formations and narrow tunnels:

The Needles HDR 20160617

View from The Needles 02-20160617

Tunnel on Needles Highway 20160617

We visited Crazy Horse Memorial, an ambitious granite statue being carved out of a mountain, billed to become  world's largest sculpture, once it is completed. It honors the legendary war hero of the Lakota tribe, whose most famous victory against US troops was the Battle of the Little Bighorn (General Custer's Last Stand -click for more information. )

The carving was started in 1948 but has made slow progress. Only the warrior's face has been completed so far. His head will be 87 feet (27 m) high:

Crazy Horse Monument HDR 20160617

Crazy Horse Monument 03-20160617

Crazy Horse Monument 04-20160617

The smaller (60 ft/18 m high) faces of four US presidents are carved on Mount Rushmore, only 17 miles away.  It is an awe-inspiring sight:

Mount Rushmore HDR 20160617

Mount Rushmore CROP 03-20160617

On our way to our next stop, Mount Rushmore could be seen in the distance:

Rushmore in distance CROP 20160617

Our last glimpse of Mount Rushmore through a gap in the trees as we headed east towards the Badlands:

Rushmore in distance 20160617

For the "reflection" meme I must hearken back to a photo I took before we flew to Colorado. A few doors from our daughter's home in Illinois, this silo cast its image on a small pond:

Silo HDR 20160606

Pale Coneflowers bloomed on the Illinois prairie:

Pale Coneflowers 20160628

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


  1. Hello, wonderful photos from your trip! The burro is so cute. Love the birds and the turkeys. I would like to see the Crazy Horse Memorial. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

  2. i am unable to load any photos today. my connection is terrible, again. i will try again later...

  3. hooray! i got about 3/4 to load that time. i remember the crazy horse monument from about 35 years ago. wow... love the burro baby and sweet deer.

  4. Holey moley. I'm packing my bags. What a wonderful photo safari. Loved tagging along with you. Cheers

  5. oh my goodness what a great trip! i really enjoyed all the photos!

  6. Really enjoyed this grand wildlife tour.

  7. WOW! You saw so much and I'm sure you have lots of photos to share. I would have taken a thousand or so! lol Love seeing the babies of any critter! The baby turkeys are the cutest! What a wonderful trip!

  8. Oh my gosh there was so much to see here today. It was fantastic. Great shots of all the Wild Life, I loved Bison and Antelope, Also enjoyed the Crazy Horse shots and Mt. Rushmore. Just a great post.

  9. Crazy Horse images were fantastic! Looks like you had a wonderful time there.
    JM, IL

  10. What a great collection of photos! They really inspire me to visit the area (I've never been). Thanks for the excellent post.

  11. What a fabulous collection of pictures from your trip. You were able to include a bit of everything. Of all of then I have the bunny rabbit and the other the pictures with the awesome rock formations. A wonderful post this week. genie

  12. What amazing scenery, great critters, too!

    I hope your meals turn up on time in the near future.


  13. Beautiful wild life and rock formations.

  14. Amazing captures! Love to take that trip too!

    Irene (Norway)

  15. Your photos are all beautiful Kenneth. I enjoyed the tours through your lens of Custer State Park.

  16. great series of photos...I love the reflections and the coneflowers!

  17. Marvelous series of nature shot ~( been on part of the route you took)my favorite of all is the bunny, and the deer ~ ^_^

    Wishing you a Happy Weekend ~ ^_^

  18. Gorgeous pictures. And I remember vacations in the US at Mount Rushmore and in Big Bend, where I saw one of the last herds of buffalos. The reflection is great,too!

  19. Great photos! S.D is one of the few states I have never been to. Your pics make me want to go there more than ever!

  20. Thats a lot of wildlife - one day I'm going to get to visit all these places I see on the web!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  21. So much wildlife and amazing photography. Looks as though you had a wonderful trip and the scenery is just breathtaking!
    Have a lovely week :)

  22. You found a great location with lots of wildlfe.

  23. Amazing images - so glad I stopped by!
    Thank you for sharing at

  24. Your photos brought back memories of these places we visited a few years ago. I doubt Crazy Horse will ever be completed but his face is impressive. We loved Custer State park and Needles Highway. Mt Rushmore was a thrill to see!

  25. Jealous! So on my bucket list of places to go!

  26. Thank you for sharing these magnificent photos, the bison, the antelope, the burros, the gorgeous landscape and all the rest.

  27. We plan to take a trip across northern US in September. Thanks for posting your beautiful pictures and giving us a peek.

  28. Wonderful photos from your trip! I love all the animals. The fawns are adorable.


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