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Sylvan Lake is a small lake impounded behind an even smaller dam built between the narrow walls of granite at the top of Sunday Gulch in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Originally private land, the lake and surrounding area now make up the northwest section of Custer State Park and the western end of the Needles Highway scenic drive. The park maintains a store, hotel and campground near the shores of the lake. Several trailheads into the surrounding area start here.
Spires of granite rise above the ponderosa around the lake and nearby area. Once covered by thousands of feet of overlying sediment, the Harney Peak granite was slowly uncovered after the Black Hills were lifted during a mountain building time that started over 60 million years ago and ended around 48 million years ago. It is a very old granite dating back 1.7 billion years ago.
The United States is one of the most diverse countries on earth, jam packed full of amazing sights from St. Patrick's cathedral in New York to Mount Hollywood California.The Northeast region is where it all started. Thirteen British colonies fought the American Revolution from here and won their independence in the first successful colonial rebellion in history. Take a look at these rolling hills carpeted with foliage along the Hudson river here, north of New York City.The American south is known for its polite people and slow pace of life. Probably they move slowly because it's so hot. Southerners tend not to trust people from "up north" because they talk too fast. Here's a cemetery in Georgia where you can find graves of soldiers from the Civil War.The West Coast is sort of like another country that exists to make the east coast jealous. California is full of nothing but grizzly old miners digging for gold, a few gangster rappers, and then actors. That is to say, the West Coast functions as the imagination of the US, like a weird little brother who teases everybody then gets famous for making freaky art.The central part of the country is flat farmland all the way over to the Rocky Mountains. Up in the northwest corner you can find creative people in places like Portland and Seattle, along with awesome snowboarding and good beer. Text by Steve Smith.