Mt. Coolidge, a fire tower, this is fire damage from the Galena fire in 1988.
Hola! We headed for the road this morning at 10:33 ready for a fun filled day of South Dakota-ness. We were a little worried b/c a forest fire broke out in Box elder Canyon near where our cabin was. We didn’t hear anything from Joan so we figured everything was ok….I’ll get to that later.
We finished Custer State Park by driving what we missed yesterday and we started with Mt. Coolidge. It’s not really a mountain, but a fire tower where you can see everything from Crazy Horse to Mt. Rushmore. It also gave a description of the Galena fire that tore through the park in 1988. It’s amazing to see how severe the damage is still today. The timeline said that by 2030 the fire destroyed area would be re-grown and repopulated by wildlife. The drive up the side of the mountain made me dizzy and it was unbelievable.
We came back down the mountain to see the rest of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway along with Iron Mountain Road.
On our way down we noticed people stopping and realized a fire had broken out in the park due to lightning the night before. It was about 3 miles off but still the smoke was insane. We saw two planes and a helicopter circling the area along with a park ranger and a fire truck speeding to the fire. We finished up Custer State Park and decided to head towards Nemo to settle in our cabin. On our way out I got my first view of Mt. Rushmore from a distance and I was awe stricken. We saw it quite a few times but the most memorable one was coming out of tunnel 3 and seeing it framed by the pines in the forest. J
Our 2nd view of Mt. Rushmore from the Needles Hwy
We headed towards Keystone to get to our cabin and I was bowled over by the amount of shops and people in the town!! I knew it’d be crazy but they are wall to wall from the start of town to the end.
We finally found our way down Nemo Road to get to Rockridge Ranch where we were told we couldn’t go any farther b/c of the Box elder Canyon fire. L So we drove back to town to call Joan from our cell. As we regained a signal we called and found out they were not evacuated but we’d have to take the long way around (which turned a 25 minute drive into an hour) along with driving some ridiculous windy gravel roads. As we made our way there we saw numerous planes dumping water on the fire along with a few helicopters. We were apprehensive about staying somewhere near the fire but it seems to be under control for now. The place is GORGEOUS. It’s butted up against the black hill forest and I’ll be attaching pictures of it. The owners are nice and they have 2 horses that Beethoven is getting acquainted with….well more like growling at when he can get away with it. We went into Sturgis to get some groceries and grab some dinner and then headed back to the “Barnhouse” to settle in. Until tomorrow!!
Helicopters carrying water to the Box Elder Canyon Forest Fire