South Dakota - Wyoming - Utah Roadtrip

South Dakota -Wyoming - Utah Roadtrip

Part 1

(Mount Rushmore & The Black Hills)

In May 2021, after a long winter season in Southwest Florida, we decided to travel to the National Parks in Utah and Wyoming. We planned a 10-day trip through the northern states of the Rocky Mountains. So we started on May 14th with American Airlines from Fort Myers airport via Dallas to Denver.

Day 1:

After a restful night at the hotel in Denver, we drove north by rental car in direction to the "Black Hills" on the Wyoming-South Dakota border, where our first destination was "Mount Rushmore". This world-famous site had long been at the top of Pooneh's list of places to visit. And to be honest, I also wanted to see the portraits of the presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln carved in stone. 

And we did not get disappointed - after a long drive and the initial bad weather with many clouds it cleared up and the presidents then finally showed up in front of a magnificent white-blue sky. Whether from the visitor's terrace directly in front of the monument or from the approximately 1-mile long "Presidential Loop Trail" around Mount Rushmore we were offered countless amazing views. In the end, the trail leads visitors directly to the monument via several observation decks and provides a fantastic view of the statues.



Another worthwhile but less known side trip is to the "Crazy Horse Memorial", which is only a few miles away. The monument is currently still under construction, and analogous to Mount Rushmore it is dedicated to the Lakota Sioux Indians who originally settled in the area before the arrival of the white man. Unfortunately, the site was closed at the time of our arrival, so we could only grasp a look from the distance and get a wage idea of the size and the accomplishment.

Day 2:

On day two we continued our journey through Wyoming to the west. However, before we finally headed towards Cody, which was our destination for the day's stage, we wanted to drive the "Needles Highway". Still, in South Dakota, the 14-mile long southern section of State Highway 87 is known for its dramatic scenery. And guess what, to our surprise, this highway did not promise too much. The name comes from the needle-like granite formations that dominate the entire area surrounding the highway and leave you in awe.

The entire route is filled with breathtaking views, with the highlight being the passage through the Needels Eye Tunnel. The tunnel is a one-lane section of the road with a clearance of about 9 ft and a width of just over 8 ft through the granite rock. As soon as we passed Needles Eye, we were rewarded with a wonderful view over the Black Hills.

Our trip then took us to Sylvan Lake, the most famous of the lakes in Custer State Park and the Black Hills. It is definitely a favorite for almost everyone, and especially for photographers and artists. Because of the idyll, we changed our plan and took a break in the morning to hike around the small lake.

The Sylvan Lake Trail is a 1.4 mile, moderately trafficked loop trail with beautiful views of the lake. From the parking lot, the trail led us first along the shore of the lake and then later through a massive granite outcrop into the backcountry. Small waterfalls and for this time of year quite common snowfields marked the short hike until we finally returned from the other side to the parking lot.

After this short intermezzo, it was now the time to continue our way through Wyoming to arrive in time at our destination for the day, where a pre-booked cabin in Cody was already waiting for us.