McGovern Library, Custer, and Bikes, Bikes, Bikes

You can see our campground in the break in the trees across the lake

George and Eleanor Mc Govern

Tuesday, our last day in Mitchell, we visited the McGovern Library and Museum. It is a small museum and is free and I think it is worth the short time it takes to visit. John wanted to go here because  when McGovern ran against Nixon, it was the first time he voted in a national election. He did vote for McGovern and in retrospect I think many others would have considering the revelations that led to Nixon resigning from office. This little library highlights the years of public service he gave to our country and to the world. A good little side visit if you find yourself in Mitchell.

Wednesday it was on to Custer State Park in the Black Hills with a little side visit to Wall Drug. We stopped here around lunch time and it was crazy; we got our first taste of all the bikes we would be seeing. Wall Drug is one of the kitschy places you just need to see to say you did. That done, it was on to Custer State Park and the Legion Lake Campground. 
Bikes parked at Legion Lake Lodge when we arrived

Did I mention that Sturgis is going on while we are here? Well I have never in my life have seen so many motorcycles and we haven’t even made it to Sturgis. They rode along side us all the way on I-90 but it got really thick with bikes when we reached Custer State Park. The entrance booth was one big bike rally but luckily they directed us to a lane by ourselves. Once in the park there are about 10 bikes for every car/truck on the road. I can see why they love it here; the windy, twisty, hilly roads would make for a fun ride on a motorcycle. A little more of a challenge pulling a 5th wheel. We arrived at our campground and are pleased; it is just a small campground and though there are bikers here it is relatively quiet. We got to see our first Bison here too. There is this one who likes to wander into our campground. The neighbor says he is around almost everyday. He is one big fella.
The campground mascot taking a stroll thru the site across from us

The North American Bison herd at Custer State park
Today we decided we wanted to ride the steam train from Hill City to Keystone. That gave some structure to the day. First we did the Wildlife Loop here in the park and we got to see the Bison herd. They try to keep the herd around 1300 so they don’t overgraze the land because they thrive here. Thinning the herd they are able to sell some each year and make around 1-2 million dollars annually from the sales. Some of the sales are for the meat but much of the sale is to people who are starting other herds.
Crazy Horse Monument, can you see the smoke from the blast?

That is our truck on the left, in the blasting area!
Our next stop was the Crazy Horse Monument. Mistakenly I thought this was a national monument but it is a private non-profit park ($20). They have taken no government dollars and I think that is amazing and wonderful. The original sculptor has died, but his family is continuing the dream. I would love to live long enough to see this completed but it is such and enormous task that I don’t think that will happen. This is a wonderful place to visit and I encourage everyone to visit this site. The bikers thought it was a great place to go too; I think they photos will say it all. The main parking lot was almost completely bikes and we were sent to a back gravel parking lot. On the way back to the truck we noticed an interesting sign telling us to go no further that beyond was a blasting area. They had us park in a blasting area?? Now that’s funny. Oh, we did get to see them do some blasting on the monument, luckily our truck wasn’t anywhere near it.
Bikes at Crazy Horse,  looking right....

......looking left

Downtown Custer City
On our way to the train we drove through Custer City and noticed they had made a parking area for all the bikes down the middle of main street. These towns do a lot to accommodate the bikers who come, I’m sure it is a huge boon to the towns. The same parking situation was true in Hill City and here the only vehicles allowed down main street were bikes. Every one else had to take parallel streets, which was ok because that’s where the train was.

Downtown Hill City

Pulling in
The train ride was fun. It is a real steam engine. If you do this when visiting the one thing I would say is get in the open car. It has wooden seats which aren’t as comfortable but the view is much better view and cooler. We rode in a covered car to Keystone but in the open car on the way back. I love to hear the train whistle and on this ride you cross the same road 20 times so you get to hear it plenty. 

Raining in the distance

A view of the engine from my seat

I think the next couple of days will be bicycle riding on the George Michelson trail and some hiking. We still have Mount Rushmore, Needles Highway and the Iron Horse road to do too. This is a great area and once again we are finding that this is an area that it would be easy to spend some significant time in. I did pick up a volunteer application. You never know.......

Happy Trails................


  1. If you get a chance, go to the Alpine Inn for lunch in Hill City. It's really good. Sure glad that big guy is looking pretty peaceful. I would hate to be there with all the people.

  2. We made the same trip several years ago. it was neat especially Mt Rushmore,being a train nut the train ride was on the list but the day we went it was closed for the day. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

  3. Boon the bikers might be to the town, but we'll make sure to steer clear of this time of the year when we plan our visit. Thanks for the tour of the area.

  4. We just loved that area. Vacationed there, but soon can fulltime there! Glad we're not going to be there during Sturgis week :)

  5. Looks like you're having lots of fun. We spent a week in the area several years ago a week before the Sturgis rally. Saw lots of very interesting bikes. Some of the women were wearing nothing but leather chaps and vest. That did not leave much to the imagination!

  6. There is so much to see in that part of the country, isn't there? We have never been to Sturgis but were in Laughlin when we were riding bikes, during one of the bike rallies. It was a blast seeing so many bikes and very noisy! How does it feel to be back on the road?

  7. Missed the library, but sure enjoyed a flashback to all the other great places:)

  8. Lots of motorcycles for sure. It looks like you're having a great time anyway!


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