Our trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota was definitely a spontaneous one as we were supposed to be on a family trip to South Carolina that unfortunately got canceled. We picked the Black Hills because I’ve been trying to be better about finding beauty and traveling to places that are closer to home, instead of traveling so far across the country. I had heard that the Black Hills is beautiful and have seen some areas that I knew I wanted to visit, but seeing it in person it was so much more beautiful than I expected.
We stayed in Custer, South Dakota and hiked and explored around Custer State Park. We would’ve loved to camp in the state park, but since the trip was so short notice and it being memorial day weekend all the campgrounds were full. We did some awesome hikes around Custer State Park, my favorites being Cathedral Spires and Little Devils Tower. I thought Little Devils Tower had the most amazing view of the hikes we did, because the trail brings you to an elevated vantage point with a great bird’s eye view. The trail requires a little bit of climbing! Needles Highway, which is a road through the park is also a must! We also spent some time around Sylvan Lake which is absolutely gorgeous and did a hike by the lake called Sunday Gulch. Sunday Gulch was unique because you descend down into a gulch and there’s railings along the hike to hold onto as you cross rocks and water.
When we weren’t hiking, we spent our time roaming around the towns of Custer and Hill City. These towns have so much charm and cool little shops to explore. Rock shops are very popular to the area and a must see! Hill City has a bunch of breweries and wineries and they are set up together in sets, so there’s a brewery and winery together at each one. I would love to someday come back to this area to go four wheeling as that’s a huge attraction to the area and the trails looked so beautiful and fun.
I visited the Black Hills for the first time last year and loved it so much that I knew immediately I would be back again. While I was there with my husband Brady last May, I saw lots of people camping with their dogs and vowed to make that happen as soon as possible. Almost exactly one year later, my dog Nika and I made it back there!
Since our last trip was last minute, we were unable to stay at any campground in the state park. I knew this time around I for sure wanted to camp in the state park, and chose Blue Bell Campground because of its privacy and beauty. The campground is surrounded by ponderosa pines and is deep in the park away from main attractions. Nika and I camped there for two nights and did the same activities as last year including Cathedral Spires, Little Devil’s Tower, and Sylvan Lake hikes.
We visited Lake Pactola one day and although we were suppose to stay at Bluebell Campground a third night, I spontaneously decided that we should camp at the lake for our last night. The lake was absolutely gorgeous to say the least, so much so that it swayed me to spend the night there. Between hikes, campfires, hammock lounging, and reading in our rooftop tent, this trip was everything that I hoped for!