South Dakota -- Jewel Cave + Wildlife Loop

Today we hit up Jewel Cave National Monument.  I'm glad we got to see both Jewel and Wind Cave and have two different experiences.  I liked the wild cave tour at Wind Cave better, but I thought Jewel Cave was prettier.  We went on the 1 hr. 20 min. Scenic Cave tour, where a ranger takes you along a lighted walkway.  The cave walls are lined with glittering calcite crystals, cave popcorn, flowstone, stalactites, and stalagmites.  Our guide was pretty ridiculous, but we still had a good time.

test crawl for the hardcore cave tour

cave bacon (???)

That evening back at Custer State Park, Jordan and I drove around the Wildlife Loop.  We had heard that if you drove this road in the morning or evening, you were almost guaranteed to see loads of critters.  We weren't disappointed -- it was like a Black Hills safari with pronghorn, bison, whitetail deer, and turkeys.

pronghorn

We also brought some apples and peaches to feed the feral burros.  The burros aren't native to the region and aren't considered real "wildlife," so you're allowed to feed them.  Yeah, I know it's cheesy, but they were supercute but really ornery.  One burro stuck his head through the window of my car, slurped up a peach from my hand, then sneezed/drooled peach juice all over me.  Nice ...

nom nom nom

nom nom nom

We were about to head back to the campsite when someone told us about a big herd of 34 bison down the road.  Incredible -- they're so huge up close.  Luckily the bulls were distracted by the ladies and didn't seem too interested in the Aveo!