Black Hills: Can You Top This?

If you are scouring the atlas for adventure and beauty, the Black Hills of South Dakota may end your search. The 4.6-mile Lover’s Leap loop trail climbs nearly 700 feet to this view of Custer State Park and beyond.

Many more trails, lakes, a wildlife drive, and four presidents at Mount Rushmore invite exploration. Bring your hybrid or mountain bike and plenty of pedaling power for the 110-mile Mickelson rail trail.

Pitch your tent or park your RV at one of a seemingly unlimited number of campsites. Our favorite is the Rafter J Bar Resort, with more green space than any park we have visited. In May, we almost had the place to ourselves, with views of forested hills and pristine (except for clusters of deer poop) green fields.

Finally, you will be close enough to explore Badlands National Park, another one of our favorite hiking destinations.

The Biggest Dune: Where Is It?

Where is the tallest sand dune in North America? A hint: it is the state with 58 fourteeners, mountains higher than 14,000 feet. The Great Sand Dunes National Park has a sandy peak 755 feet tall. Sue and I passed on the climb, which would have taken the better part of a day in the squishy surface. Star Dune is the name of the big pile of granules. Where is it? Colorado!
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains rise behind the great sand dunes range.