Man we did a lot today! After a “real” breakfast at the Rushmore Hotel we headed out to Mount Rushmore. We were told there really wasn’t much to do there other than view four giant heads so we didn’t allow a lot of time. And that was accurate because it really is not a lot to do once you take pics of the heads!!😂
But it is really amazing when you think about the tools they had at their disposal when carving out Mount Rushmore-truly an amazing feat!
The landscape is really quite different from what we saw the previous day. No more soft green rolling hills. Now very mountainous, treed scenery with granite formations jutting out into the sky.
The altitude of Mount Rushmore is about 5200 feet. Significantly higher than that of South Dakota.
Our next stop was the Crazy Horse Monument about 20 minutes down the road from Mount Rushmore. Scott and I were pretty impressed by this place. If you’re ever anywhere near it you really need to stop and spend some time. Long story short, around 1948 a Lakota Indian chief asked this guy who had worked on Mount Rushmore if he would agree to build a monument to the Native Americans. The tribal leaders chose Chief Crazy Horse to be the subject of the monument. The purpose was really to show the white man that “the red men” have their famous people too. The work was pretty much started by this one guy, his wife and then carried on by their 10 children and they been working on it since 1948.
Here’s the link if you want to read more about it. https://crazyhorsememorial.org/
What really impressed us was not just the dedication in keeping this project going but also their commitment to keeping the Native American culture alive and supporting education. It’s an amazing endeavor considering it’s not supported by federal funds. In fact the sculptor twice refused $10 million grants from the government because he was convinced that the US government would either not complete the sculpture at all or would not promote the cultural enrichment and education of the Native Americans. I’d say that’s pretty impressive.
We enjoyed the Museum and the video explaining the project’s mission. I was surprised to see more paper sculptures by the Edgars like the one we saw at the Rushmore Hotel. Too bad I didn’t take more pics!!
We drove back to Rapid City for lunch passing through the lush forest of the Custer State Park. We really enjoyed Rapid City!!
After a slight delay- waiting almost 2 1/2 minutes for a freight to pass, we headed for Wyoming.
We crossed into Wyoming just before 4 PM when we saw a sign for a roadside attraction- the Vore Buffalo Jump. https://www.vorebuffalojump.org/content/
It’s pretty much a sinkhole that’s been around for over 500 years. About six different tribes of Native Americans over hundreds of years used to drive hundreds of Buffalo into the sinkhole which was about 75 feet deep originally. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago the Native Americans did not have horses. So the only way to kill the massive amounts of Buffalo that they needed to sustain themselves through the winters was to drive them into the sink holes. They would actually chase the Buffalo on foot over the cliff into the sinkhole. Then they would climb down, butcher and dress the meat as they needed and then carry it back up so they could have it for the winter. No one even knew that sinkhole was there until the mid-70s when they started building Interstate 90. Once discovered, they carried out several excavations which is how they know how old it was.
Now I understand the story behind the “Prairie Edge Hunt” sculpture I saw at the Rushmore Hotel!! See what you can learn when you decide to get out of a car!
Our last stop of the day was Devils Tower. According to the website:
The Tower is an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills. It is considered sacred by Northern Plains Indians and indigenous people. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest crack climbing areas in North America.
The last excitement of the day was when Scott slammed the brakes on, exclaiming he saw a llama. He did!!
We spent the night in another Best Western. Not quite as nice as the one in Rapid City, but good enough.
Tomorrow is another long day of driving. Our destination is Cody, Wyoming, the home of the Wild West showman, Buffalo Bill Cody.