Custer State Park & Sheridan Lake

Wrapping up our jam-packed trip to the Dakotas, we kept the ante up with lakeside hikes, outdoor exhibits, and a fantastic state park. There was so much to see!


Our first order of business was Sheridan Lake, where we enjoyed one of the most scenic and restorative hikes ever! The heavily wooded trail followed the water's edge, and we were met with some beautiful creatures along the quiet path.


Chipmunk near Sheridan Lake in South Dakota

Grackle at Sheridan Lake in South Dakota

Raptor over Sheridan Lake in South Dakota

As we cleared the trees, we were rewarded with pretty views of the lake, before we dove back into the greenery.



Sheridan Lake in South Dakota

Greenery near Sheridan Lake in South Dakota

Later, on the urban side of things, we popped into Fort Hays Old West Town, a filming location from Dances with Wolves, and visited the eccentric Dinosaur Park, which had a nice view from the top of the hill overlooking Rapid City. We also spent quite a bit of time reading the narrative at the Berlin Wall Exhibit.


Our last hurrah before heading back to Wyoming was Custer State Park, which had both beautiful scenery and terrific wildlife opportunities!


Custer State Park in South Dakota

The vast expanse of the wildlife preserve was teeming with buffalo and deer, but one of our favorite encounters was with the burros. We were lucky enough to see two new spring arrivals, one of which came right up to us! He was a joy to watch as he kicked up his heels, dashed ahead of mom, and then settled in at her side as she calmly made her way toward us.



These feral donkeys weren't shy in the slightest, and let me tell you - a tiny baby burro is one of the sweetest and softest creatures on earth! His mama looked like she had quite the lifetime of foals before him, and she was trusting and patient with the tourists who stopped to pet and feed her.



Burro jenny at Custer State Park in South Dakota

The pair exchanged a tender kiss and a nuzzle, melting hearts all over the park.



We saw so many birds while visiting, including red-winged blackbirds, and a grebe with a fish in its beak! This grackle had gorgeous blue feathers...


Common Grackle at Custer State Park in South Dakota

There were buffalo all over the preserve, with dozens of sweet little baby buffalo, or "red dogs", playing and relaxing across the landscape. I can see where they got their nickname! They looked so cuddly, but they sure do grow up into fearsome creatures!


Baby buffalo at Custer State Park in South Dakota

We closed out our trip with one last monument; Crazy Horse. While this memorial doesn't appear to have changed during the past few decades, it was still breathtaking when we rounded a corner and it came into our unsuspecting view. Perhaps it will achieve more progress in the future, and we can come back to witness it, along with revisiting the many beauties of South Dakota.


Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota