"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
The Mammoth Site is one of the must-see places to visit in Hot Springs. The first thing you see is a mammoth and the sign in the lawn, beckoning you in.
Nearby at the edge of the road is a marker too.
A walkway with informative signs lead to the spacious building enclosing the dig site from the weather.
Upon entering the building we see an enormous Mammoth skeleton! It was found in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. Wisconsin also had Mastadons. we saw the Mastadon site in Boaz, WI a few years ago.
We arrived about 3:00 so we only had 2 hours so we were sure the guided tour included in our admission would give us a good overview. Read brochure for hours here.
The site was discovered in 1974 by heavy equipment operator George Hanson. A new housing development was slated to be built on the site. He began grading a small hill and struck bone. He halted work immediately and brought the bones he inadvertently excavated to his son Dan, who had taken archaeology and geology classes. Dan also called his former professor Dr. Larry Agenbroad and invited him to come examine the site. He arrived a week later and confirmed this was a major find! The land owner, Phil Anderson sold the land in 1975 so the work could continue. To this day, 62 mammoth skeletons have been discovered. The building housing the site was completed in 1986.
Our tour began with a 10 minute film, our guide Riley did a fine job. See our tour here first hand. After the film our group went to see the dig site. Riley took us around the pit, stopping at 5 vantage points and showing us many of the well-preserved bones.
After the tour we could explore the other exhibit rooms adjacent to the dig area. There was only time to see the Ice Age Exhibit Hall before they closed.
A Woolly Mammoth Bone House replica is here too. I apologize for the blurry 2nd pic.
We sure had a lot of fun here. Our guide Riley did a fine job on the tour and explained everything well. Be sure to budget time for a visit here if you come to Hot Springs!
Donations gratefully accepted to continue the project!
you will see a sign for a low power radio station describing what is going on there.
We tuned in, you can listen here. The drive up the Avenue of the Chiefs built our anticipation for a great visit!
Here is a short film giving an overview of this monumental project.
The project was began in 1948 by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and the legacy continues today by his children.
Admission is $28 for per vehicle with more than 2 people. That fee is waived during special events where food donations are accepted instead.
The grounds are beautiful with a great view of the carving-in-progress. There is a museum and the Laughing Water Restaurant where you can enjoy Indian Taco and other traditional Native American foods. We enjoyed a great dinner there! Pictured is the taco, Tatanka (Bison) Stew, and fry bread with wojapi (warm berry sauce) for a yummy dessert!
Begin your self-guided tour of the extensive museum at the information desk, the people there are happy to answer your questions!
There are a great many rooms to explore, you can make a day of it here! The main deck is a great viewpoint of Crazy Horse, you can see all the action when work is being done. There is also a scale model of what it will look like when complete on the deck. This model is in the display room behind me.
This room is the first one you see after coming off the main deck near the restaurant.
In this room is a bin of rocks from the monument that you can take for free!
The scale model showing what it will look like when finished. Al and I may not live long enough though to see that day unless they get a LARGE influx of money. This is being built entirely on donations.
Here are some other highlights in the rest of the building.
Inside of the teepee.
This was a surprise, a signed Packer football there 🙂
Korczak display room with artifacts from the family and early carvings.
A painting of Korczak at age 73.
This display room has a great many Native American artifacts from many tribes.
More to see downstairs.
It was thrilling seeing a real one on the way there!
We were reaching the conclusion of our tour. As we prepared to go, we saw a bus taking people out to the base of the mountain. We were a little too tired to do that today, but planning on it next time.
After an unsuccessful attempt to see the monument the day before, we returned the next morning and were happy to see sunny skies! We took the fast route there from Hot Springs on the return trip. Enjoy the views on our drive from Hot Springs to Mt. Rushmore, it was one hour from there. It is located in Keystone. We arrived at 6:40 AM.
The Iron Mountain Road we took the day before led us to this historical marker about the designer of the monument.
The route up the other side from Custer was beautiful the next morning. We saw a mountain lake reflecting the blue sky, the trees flocked in snow.
We made it to the top, the view just before pulling into the parking ramp.
We were among the first people here, arriving before the museum opened. Outside is a sign posting events going on there daily.
The Avenue of Flags paves the way to the Grand Terrace to view the monument close-up. in a niche on the left is a bust of Borglum.
We made it! Seeing this work of art up close is amazing. The blue sky really made it stand out.
We had the pleasure of chatting with other visitors from around the world and we helped take selfies of them with Mt. Rushmore in the background. There also are two viewing scopes, it costs 50 cents to use it.
We enjoyed exploring the museum inside too. There is so much to see there, here is a general overview. There are a series of displays in the entryway.
This is the largest main display room, the Exhibit Hall.
There is a scale model of Mt. Rushmore. Also videos and artifacts such as tools used in the building of the monument.
A large mural depicting the Presidents.
It was almost time to go, we took the elevator back up to the Grand Terrace and noticed more people arriving.
Walking back through the Avenue of Flags, we saw a beautiful white Mountain Goat on our right regarding the crowd!
It was now 9:15, we planning on leaving by 9:30 so we made a stop at the gift shop first. Enter under the first awning on the right, you can also just see the statue of Borglum on the right. We stayed three hours.
We give Mt. Rushmore a thumbs up! We were so happy to be here today!
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.
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!
After 15 hours on the road, we arrived. At the top of a hill is the site of the massacre.
At the bottom by the road is a red sign describing it.
We drove up to the top of the hill on a rough dirt road and parked at the top. The entryway is a brick arch.
A couple of Sioux ladies in a pickup truck drove up too a few minutes later. They greeted us and offered up jewelry and other handmade crafts for sale. Knowing that white people were the ones that caused them such pain, I felt it would be rude to not purchase something from them. I purchased a beautiful turquoise cross necklace for $20.
After they departed we looked around. This site clearly in need of cleaning up and maintenance, but they have little money to do so. In the center is a fenced-in area. One monument inside this enclosure stands taller than the others.
As you can see, Chief Big Foot is listed at the top of this monument. We found a marker for him about 5 miles from here, another resident of the area told us where.
We walked further into the cemetery, this is the chapel.
Coming back around toward the entrance, it is time to depart. We wished the many souls here peace.
We visited the Chief Big Foot site on our way out of the area.
We leave Wounded Knee. They will be in our prayers.
One town we HAD to stop in was Mitchell, South Dakota. See their visitor guide here. Stop by the Visitor’s Center across from the Corn Palace. It’s the same building the gift shop is in.
Out front is a sculpture and a plaque. Photos by Al.
Corn is the theme of this community. It is even on the bottom of the lampposts downtown.
The World’s OnlyCorn Palace is a must-see for any visitor to this state. Of course we did! It has been a centerpiece of Mitchell since 1892, still looking brand new with recent renovations.
We arrived at 12:40 after leaving Madison at 5:30 AM. You could see it on your right as you approached downtown, the turrets reaching toward the sky.
The Corn Palace is an entertainment venue, inside is a large auditorium for shows. They were setting it up for a circus performance that was going to take place that evening.
When you come inside the lobby, friendly volunteers welcome you and have some information available about the Corn Palace and other South Dakota attractions. The columns inside even look like corn cobs.
On the main floor and the 2nd floor and displays and pictures of the Corn palace years ago. A plaque dedication the “new” Corn Palace upstairs.
The LED lights add an elegant accent above the entrance.
The pictures outside are new every year and are made of corn and other agriculture of South Dakota. These pictures are on the front of the building.
These are on the right side of the building. Here is this year’s pictures, beginning with Elvis, the largest picture. Then the 5 smaller ones just right of Elvis (click on image to enlarge).
Across the street is the corn palace gift shop and mall and a chance to get a great selfie like we did.
Stop at the Corn Palace, you will have a great time!