Saturday, August 13, 2011

One Last Black Hills Road Trip

Spearfish to Spearfish-1We’re preparing to leave the Spearfish area, but before we departed, wanted to take one more road trip through the Black Hills.  We headed up Spearfish Canyon to Cheyenne Crossing, then headed across the border toward Newcastle, Wyoming.  Our drive took us through the heavily-forested mountains, through the foothills, and finally into the rolling grasslands of eastern Wyoming.  We stopped at Newcastle, a town of 3000 and billed as the “Western Gateway to the Black Hills”.  Newcastle SD CourthouseDriving around the town, we noticed the exceptional county courthouse, but frankly, the rest of the town was mostly industrial with an oil refinery right in the center of everything.  We continued on, through beautiful rolling hills and ranchland and turned back into South Dakota, headed for Edgemont.  We’d read in the South Dakota magazine about pictographs in an area just outside of town called Red Canyon, and decided to take a look.  Finding the canyon road, we followed the gravel road through spectacular scenery.  There were abandoned ranches, interesting rock formations, and a few drawings on the rocks of what may have been pictographs (or maybe cowboy graffiti).  It was a beautiful drive, and here are some of the sights we saw along the way:

Red Canyon SD
Keyhole Rock
Rock Drawings
From Edgemont, we headed north back into the Black Hills, climbing back into forest and open areas with numerous prairie dog villages.  We stopped in Hot Springs, the first tourist town in the Black Hills.  With it’s beautifully maintained sandstone buildings, shops, and yes, hot springs, it’s a place we enjoyed visiting and will return to.  The visitor center, formerly the train station, was staffed by a delightful lady who told us about the colorful history of the area, and we were intrigued by the adjacent wooden jail, which was discovered inside a house.  No one knows why it was inside, but we suspect that the family had teenagers….wish we had thought of that!  Hot Springs is truly unique; set in a beautiful area with interesting things to do – more so than the traditional tourist towns of Custer and Keystone.  Here are some images of our visit:
Hot Springs SD
Train Depot Sign
Union Depot Hot Springs
Jail Sign
Old Jailhouse
It was a long day, almost 250 miles, but well worth it.  One thing to remember when visiting the Black Hills is that this is not a small area; it extends almost 120 miles north to south, and 60 miles east to west.  And there’s also Devil’s Tower, the Beartooth Mountains, the Badlands, and Rapid City to explore.  We’ll definitely need a return trip to see everything we’re interested in!

Back in Spearfish, we were disappointed to learn that our volunteer coordinator, Renae, was leaving.  Renae is an exceptional young lady who impressed us with her organizational and interpersonal skills.  Just keeping all 20 of us senior citizen volunteers happy and motivated was a monumental task – but she succeeded and we’ll miss her smile and positive attitude.  We had the opportunity to have a farewell pot-luck at our volunteer village for her where we sent her off with our best wishes and hopes that we’ll see her again.  She’s a great young lady; we’ll miss her!
Renae & flowers
The Sturgis Rally is approaching, we can’t wait to see what happens when the estimated 600,000 bikers hit the area – c’mon back and see!


  1. Mary and Jim2:51 PM

    Beautiful pictures. I have not even seen some of those areas!

    Keep us posted on The Rally! Saw a YouTube on an altercation between the Hell's angels and the Mongols!

    Did the grassy area fill up?

  2. Renae9:20 PM

    Ahhh, I'll miss you too! It was easy to keep such exceptional people happy. Truly an honor to know all the volunteers this year. Keep in touch...our paths may cross again someday, I hope! In the meanwhile, I will follow your journey through your blog.