With the temperatures finally settling down to something resembling normal for September in the Black Hills, we decided to try again to do our planned hike in Custer State Park. From beautiful Sylvan Lake, we hiked to the top of Little Devils Tower. Getting up to the tower requires a little bit of climbing skill as the trail becomes nothing but paint marks in the rock that you follow as you scramble up to the top. From the top of the tower, we were rewarded with an early morning view of the surrounding terrain, including the summit of Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. Our original plan was to continue on to Harney, but we felt we’d seen enough of the area and we were anxious to move on to our next destination: The Badlands.
After finishing the hike, the day was still young, so we hopped in the car and traveled east to Badlands National Park. A short drive along the northern road offers the visitor stunning views of strange rock formations with bands of multiple colors in the rock faces. Wildlife was also prevalent with lots of Bighorn Sheep and Buffalo. The views of the park became even more intense around sunset, when the setting sun set the rock faces ablaze in hues of orange and red. We found a great spot along the main road to hang out and photograph the cliff faces lit up by the setting sun. Our empty stomachs quickly required that we look for a nearby restaurant. One thing we learned quickly: there is only one restaurant in the national park, as well as in the nearby town of Interior, and it closes at 7:00 pm. We managed to get there with minutes to spare, so we didn’t have to go to bed hungry. We feasted on yummy Navajo Tacos while watching the day’s remaining light disappear over the horizon.