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Wordless Wednesday: Starfish

Starfish at Hole in the Wall

Wordless Wednesday: Wild Horses

Wild Horse of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Custer State Park

Path Around Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake

Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a large park on the scale of some of the most popular national parks. If there is some type of outdoor recreation you enjoy, I’m sure it can be found at Custer State Park. From hiking and camping to rock climbing and scenic drives, there is something for everyone at Custer.

Getting Ready for the Hay RideThe 71,000 acres of Custer State Park is home to a variety of wildlife. The best way to see the wildlife is to drive the Wildlife Loop Road. Bison, Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goats, and Prairie Dogs can be seen along the road. For my birthday, we took the Hayride through the wildlife loop road (left) and it was fun because our guide slowed down in areas where the animals are likely to be found and talked to us about them. At the end of the tour, we had a chuckwagon cookout and sing along which was a lot of fun and the food was good too! If you’re in for an off-road experience, the Buffalo Safari Jeep tour looked fun too!

Needles Highway

Probably the most scenic drive in Custer State Park is the Needles Highway. The Needles Highway takes you through pine forests and the unique needles rock formations. The drive isn’t for the faint of heart or those with oversized vehicles because there are some hairpin turns and one-lane tunnels through the Needles. I have heard that the road can get pretty crowded in the summer but we found that driving in the late afternoon or early evening we were able to enjoy the drive without crowds. We enjoyed the drive so much that we did it several times while we were staying in the area.

There are several good lakes for paddling in the park but Sylvan Lake (top) is probably the most popular. The unique rock formations are fun to paddle around and explore. It is a landscape unlike I had ever seen before. The downside of Sylvan Lake is that is fairly small and we had gone around it twice in probably less than half an hour. We were going to check out the bigger Stockade Lake after but when we got there it was closed due to bacteria. Oh well, I guess that gives us a reason to return, right?

The Black Hills really surprised me. I didn’t expect the scenic beauty that can be found at Custer and the surrounding area. I would love to return and be able to explore deeper into the park. I would love to stay at one of the many campgrounds or lodges. If you are going to be in the Black Hills, be sure to check out Custer State Park. You will not be disappointed.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Pinterest Graphic

Custer Pinterest Graphic

Custer State Park Pin

Wordless Wednesday: Prairie Dog

Prairie Dog

Laughing Whitefish Falls

During our Epic Michigan Road Trip a few years ago, we spent the day driving from Houghton to Munising exploring Northern Michigan’s waterfalls. I had heard about Laughing Whitefish Falls and wanted to check it out. We looked it up on Google Maps and headed out to see it. Google suggested a shortcut so we took it. After driving a little while the road we were driving on turned into a two-track. We figured if it’s on Google its got to be a legitimate road so we continued driving. After bouncing around for a while we came to a creek running across the road. At the time we were driving our Kia Soul which is not much of an off-road vehicle and we didn’t think would be a good idea to drive our car through water, so we turned around and headed back where we came from.

Ever since that day, I have seen pictures of these falls and I put them at the top of my list for things to see on a return trip to the UP. When planning this trip, I saw the drive from Fayette to the Porcupine Mountains as a perfect time to take a detour to Laughing Whitefish Falls. This time, we stuck to the main route and we made it!

Laughing Whitefish Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Michigan and is really impressive to see in person. The trail from the parking area to the falls is about a mile long and ends at a viewing platform at the top of the falls. From there you can take the very large staircase to get you to the bottom of the approximately 100-foot tall waterfall. Make sure you bring water because it is a lot easier to go down all those stairs than it is to go up them!

Laughing Whitefish Falls is located off of M-94 between Munising and Marquette near the town of Chatham. Be sure to follow the signs to the park and not follow GPS guidance unless you are prepared to go off-roading!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our UP adventure, check out the Great Lakes, Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Wordless Wednesday: Cairn Shadow

Wordless Wednesday: Tree

Wordless Wednesday: Where the Grass Grows

Wordless Wednesday: Hawk in Flight

Mainely Acadia: Sunset Cruise

Maine sunset from the water.

After climbing to the top of South Bubble Mountain, we walked around Bar Harbor and did some shopping. We also explored the shore path, which is a nice little hiking trail right in Bar Harbor that winds the shoreline. We had a wonderful waterfront dinner at The Terrace Grille. Mostly, we killed time until our sunset cruise.

Egg Rock Light at sunset

One of our favorite experiences on our first Acadia trip, was the sunset nature cruise. So, when planning this trip, I knew that we had to take my family out on the water. We considered trying another company that sailed out of another spot on the island, but in the end, we went with the same company as last time, Acadian Nature Cruises.

Our cruise last year was shortened due to weather. A thunderstorm was rolling in and we didn’t get much of a sunset. I didn’t realize how much of our tour we lost because of that weather. After some time watching the seals and seagulls at Egg Rock (above, left), we went over to the Schoodic Peninsula and we watched a Bald Eagle on its perch. Then, the boat parked for a little bit and watched the sun go down over the water (top).

The weather was much different on this trip than last year. Being that we traveled much earlier in the year (end of June vs. unseasonably hot beginning of August) this cruise was much cooler than last year. When it was 95 degrees at the peak of the day, it was still pretty warm out on the water, even at sunset. This last trip, we got highs in the 70s, if we were lucky. Out on the water, it was breezy and when the sun went down it was very cold. If you plan a sunset cruise, bring a warm sweatshirt or even a jacket.

We saw a lot more animals last year than we did this year, although we did see a Bald Eagle this year. Unfortunately we didn’t see any harbor porpoises or puffins. Those sightings last year were the reason I didn’t realize how much the weather had shortened our trip.

Cruise ship departing past Egg Rock.

Besides great wildlife sightings and a beautiful sunset view, this tour is also a great way to see some of the Bar Harbor “Cottages” (they are way too big to be called a cottage, in my opinion) and learn about the history of the area. I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Acadia. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some local wildlife. If not, you still get stunning views that you just can’t get on land!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back next week to hear about the Asticou Azalea Gardens. To read more posts in this trip report, check out the trip report page. To read about some of our previous trips, click here.If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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