We ended day 2 of the trip by staying in Rapid City in Western South Dakota. Rapid City is a neat city with a beautiful view of the mountains around it. It reminded me of Denver on a smaller scale. It was a great home base to see all of the surrounding sites.
First up was Mt. Rushmore. Construction on Mt. Rushmore ended in 1941. It was originally supposed to include the full busts of the presidents but due to lack of funding, only the faces were completed. The monument includes the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln. Mom, Amber and I had been to Mt. Rushmore before but it was many years ago and Amber and I didn’t remember it so we dragged Mom back again.
Why hello Mr. Presidents, it’s good to see you!
The second photo below makes me laugh. We were waiting for mom to finish looking for a book. I asked Alexys to jump so I could try to get a fun photo. It turned out pretty cute I think.
Nice photo of all of us.
I like this shot of President Washington.
Next up was Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse was a Native American leader of the Oglala Lakota. He led a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He was killed in 1877. The monument in South Dakota is a work in progress but Mom said it hasn’t changed much in 40 years. Progress depends on private donations. My advice is to peek at it from the road and then move on. It was expensive ($30ish I think?) to get into this park (it is privately owned, not part of the National Park Services) and there isn’t enough to see to warrant the steep price.
Below is a model of what the monument will eventually look like with the monument as it is now in the background.
One thing I remember about our trips to South Dakota when we were younger was Bear Country. Bear Country is a drive through wildlife park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Along with bears, they have other animals as well. The kids (and adults) really enjoyed our drive through the park. About halfway, through, it started pouring down rain but it just added fun to the experience.
We ended our time in South Dakota with a drive through the badlands. Before I left for this trip, my boss told me that she thinks South Dakota is one of the most underrated states. She said it is really beautiful and there is a lot to see. She was right and the badlands are an example. I really enjoyed our drive though Badlands National Park. There was a lot of interesting scenery to see. The striking geologic deposits that make up the badlands contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed there. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.
At one point, Alexys and I walked from the car further down along the badlands to see the mountain goats in the photos further below. As we were standing along the ridge looking at them, I turned around and saw the goat in the photo directly below. It was walking right towards us. I grew up on a farm with goats and know the damage a ticked off goat can do if it charges and rams a human. It is not pretty. I had a moment of panic – what the heck do I do with Alexys next to me if it charges? Ugh! I told her to stand there with me quietly and not move and the goat eventually changed its course and walked on by. Whew! I was probably overreacting but I wasn’t sure how a wild goat would react to humans in its space.