After driving Custer State Park's Wildlife Loop, my parents and I headed towards the town of Custer to find some lunch. But en route, a sign pointing towards Mt. Coolidge caught my eye.
|Mt. Coolidge Firetower|
I'd never been to the top of this mountain (or if I had I didn't remember). My dad, who was doing an excellent job as tour guide, offered to drive up there and check it out. Of course my answer was a resounding yes.
|View from the base|
A short, winding forest service road took us to the base of Mt. Coolidge's fire tower, perched atop this 6,023 foot peak.
|A nice observation deck|
The firetower was a sturdy rock building constructed of local limestone. From the multitude of nearby antennas and radio towers, it appeared this lookout was still very much in use.
|Looking down on the road|
Steps led to a small viewing platform. My parents and I climbed the short distance and gasped at the incredible panoramic views of the Black Hills.
|Fantastic Black Hills panorama|
Oh yeah, it was a clear day and we could see for many miles. The "hills," green from an above-average summer of moisture, looked mighty fine from our lofty perch.
|Loved the stonework|
I admired the sturdy lookout tower. Later research confirmed it had been built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corp. I also learned this fire tower is still very much in use during the summer months.
After lunch at a great hamburger place in Custer, dad drove home via the Iron Mountain Road, connecting Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore. Another iconic Black Hills byway, this road featured tight turns, cute wooden bridges (nicknamed "pigtail bridges"), and strategically placed tunnels. Ooh! More tunnels! Who doesn't love tunnels?
|Pigtail bridge leads to this tunnel|
This road was deliberately designed to be driven slowly. And with such great scenery around every turn, who wouldn't want to take their time? Some roads wound around such tight turns that you could see the road underneath as you crossed over. One pigtail bridge led travelers right into a rocky tunnel.
|Mt Rushmore framed in the tunnel entrance|
But this was no ordinary tunnel. Oh no - this one was special. As you emerged from the opposite end, drivers were treated to a front-row view of Mt. Rushmore framed in the opening. How many tunnels can claim this?
And of course I had to get a video. Enjoy this trip through a Black Hills tunnel, South Dakota style!
(Ok, after this I promise no more tunnels. Well.....until next year.)
Sharing with: Through My Lens and Our World Tuesday.