April 26, 2017
We spent the day exploring the Black Hills of South Dakota riding along in our friend’s truck. He and his wife have lived here for 20 years so they know it well! Here is a map showing the area that we covered today.
We headed north from where they live in Hot Springs. They gave us the grand tour of the Hot Springs area the day before.
First, we drove through Wind Cave National Park. If we come back in the summer, we can see the cave itself, April is still in the off-season.we went into the hills, there was quite a bit of snow since we were at higher elevation, we were also brushing the bottom of the rather low cloud deck.
The Elk Haven store at the Elk Haven Horse Camp, you can see the low cloud deck.
Enjoy a drive through the park, plenty of bison too!
Next, we drove through Custer State Park, at least partially. Our goal was to connect with Highway 16A, also known as Iron Mountain Road. It is 17 miles of amazing views, bridges and forest. Also tunnels carved right in the mountain! It is the scenic route to Mt. Rushmore. Unfortunately, the low cloud deck prevented us from seeing Mt. Rushmore from the third tunnel. I superimposed the view in the video to show you what it would have looked like.
Enjoy the ride!
The wildlife was abundant and were close enough to the road for easy viewing. It is recommended that you stay in your vehicle so not to scare them or in the case of bison, starting a stampede! We also saw Antelope, Elk, Bull Deer, and Prairie Dogs. Even Mountain Goats at Mt. Rushmore! So wonderful to see them in their natural environment.
After our drive through 16A, We went to Mt. Rushmore. Admission is free, parking is not however. It was $5 for our friends’ vehicle since he is a senior, $10 normally. Unfortunately, the cloud covering the monument didn’t lift. The elevation is at 4528 ft. and we had a low cloud deck all day. This is what we saw. disappointed, we left.
We then went to the Crazyhorse Memorial. It is about 1/2 hour away from Rushmore. This is a carving of Chief Crazy Horse that was begun by Korczak Ziolkowski after 1947 and continued until his death on Oct. 20, 1982. The weather was very different there, the cloud was clearing and we had sunshine!
A close up of the memorial.
You can make a day of it here. It costs $28 for a carload. The have a large museum that we explored. Also the Laughing Waters Restaurant, we enjoyed dinner here, the windows give you a great view of the monument while you are eating. The food was delicious and we hope to be back in 2018.
We all had a great day exploring the Black Hills. We hope to see more on our return visit and go back to Crazy Horse for one of their special events in the summer. As for Mt. Rushmore, we returned early the next morning and were blessed with sunny skies!