Black Hills South Dakota – Part 2

Great Faces – Great Places

Mt. Rushmore
Mt. Rushmore
Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial

You will see these words – Great Faces, Great Places – on the license plates in South Dakota.  I think it really captures the essence of the most popular attraction in the state – Mt. Rushmore, but also highlights that it has much more to offer.   In addition to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse we loved the town of Deadwood in the north and its counterpart, Keystone in the south.  Then there are Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument which are situated next to Custer Park.  All three are amazing and a must see when you come to this area.

As amazing as Mt. Rushmore is in its grandeur, Crazy Horse has it’s own majestic beauty.  Once finished Crazy Horse will be the largest monument in the world.  The face of Crazy Horse alone is so large that all four faces from Mt. Rushmore would fit inside it. Below is a picture of the model of the finished figure of Crazy Horse.  The story about the sculptor who started this project and made it his lifetime work and his family that continues pressing on with it is captivating.  Everything that has been done here is with private donations.  The original sculptor wanted it that way so that there would be no government interference with the project.  The work continues slowly so I don’t believe it will finished in my lifetime.

Crazy Horse Monument Model
Crazy Horse Monument Model

I’ve added a few more pictures of Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse below.  There isn’t too much I need to say about Mt. Rushmore as it is well known, except that it should be on everyone’s bucket list.  There is quite a bit of camping in the area although it is pricey as you would expect.  We found a  place, Heartland RV Park, that was fine for our stay.  It was on the east side of Custer Park which made it a little bit of a drive to the sights, but with Passport America each night was only $27 instead of $54.  Most other parks nearer to the monuments were $60 or more per night.

Mt. Rushmore
Mt. Rushmore
Liz at the entrance to the monument
Liz at the entrance to the monument
Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse
Closer view of Crazy Horse
Closer view of Crazy Horse

Wind Cave National Park is not only great for what is under ground, but also for the wildlife present in the grass lands that are on the surface.  It supports abundant wildlife including one of the two pure wild Bison herds in the U.S.  The other is in Yellowstone, WY.  You will also see elk and pronghorn antelope in much of the area.  For more information click on the link below.

https://www.nps.gov/wica/index.htm

Wind Cave Visitor Center
Wind Cave Visitor Center
The original entrance to the cave with the Ranger showing the cave "breathing in"
The original entrance to the cave with the Ranger showing the cave “breathing in”
Wind Cave Stats
Wind Cave Stats
One of the many passages
One of the many passages

Not far away from Wind Cave is another labyrinth of underground passages that form Jewel Cave.  It is a National Monument and is much different than Wind Cave even though they are in the same general area.  A link to the Jewel Cave website is below.

https://www.nps.gov/jeca/index.htm

Jewel Cave Stats
Jewel Cave Stats
Ms. Liz in Jewel Cave
Ms. Liz in Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Looking down into the cave
Looking down into the cave
Caving Gear
Caving Gear

Finally, I want to say a few words about Custer State Park.  It costs $20 to take the wildlife loop drive through the park, but is well worth it.  We saw lots of bison and antelope up close along with other wildlife.  The views are spectacular especially Needles Highway.  It is 14 miles of “steering wheel gripping” as you wind through tunnels and switch backs.  Liz and I took it one day not expecting the views and twists and turns that the road provided.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.  Below is a link to the park.

http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/default.aspx

Antelope - Custer State Park
Antelope – Custer State Park
Bison Herd - Custer State Park
Bison Herd – Custer State Park
Dusting Off
Dusting Off
Inquisitive Burrow
Inquisitive Burro
Needles Highway
Needles Highway
Tunnel on Needles Highway
Tunnel on Needles Highway

I’m still a little behind on my posts, but am trying to catch up.  We head next through Nebraska and the corner of Wyoming on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Stay tuned….

 

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