Day 3: Mt. Rushmore & Crazy Horse

Some people do not have much. Some of the places we saw as we left Badlands were old homesteads, decrepit and falling apart. Evidence of a life was manifested in abandoned tractors that are now memoirs written in rust. As we left Badlands behind and raced toward the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore, we passed several road signs for towns that had maybe one or two distinguishable farms or houses on them. There is just not a lot of “stuff” or “conveniences” in this part of the country. Personally, I quite enjoyed the tranquil driving and the wide open spaces. But as much as I loved all of the space and just enjoying the drive, I was super excited to catch the first glimpse of Mt. Rushmore.

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Who knew that Teddy was done in such detail that he actually has on his spectacles?! I totally did not know that.

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After Mt. Rushmore, we found a little gem thanks to Fodor’s (seriously, worth its weight in gold). Scenic routes are awesome! Custer State Park is in the same area, and I really wish we would have had more time to visit and hike there. It’s a beautiful place with lots of wildlife, with some that would come right up to you and expect to be petted. Wildlife Loop Road is so worth the drive. This park also boasts the Cathedral Spires, which were beautiful in the partly cloudy weather we were having because the sunlight would highlight the spires. Beautiful!

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As fascinating as Mt. Rushmore is, with all of the logistical work it took to carve something like that, Crazy Horse is even more of a wonder. The fee to get into the actual park is $10/person. At first, I thought this was pretty high, since it wasn’t covered under our national parks pass. We soon discovered why this was, though: it’s not a national monument because the people working on the project want to do it without government funding (and have actually turned down $10 million twice), and are instead funding the project solely by donations and the park entrance fees. After hearing that, I was completely satisfied to see where our dollars were going. This is supposed to be a monument not only for Sioux Indians, but for all Native American groups, which means the Black Hills were the perfect place for the monument to be built. It has taken decades for them to get this far along with it, so there is obviously a lot more work to do. I hope that sometime in my lifetime it is completed so we can go back and see the finished product.

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For perspective, the entire Mt. Rushmore sculpture would fit in the top half of just the head of Crazy Horse. It’s an insane scale!

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