Fifth Day: Carved Mountains and…Regular Mountains

This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series South Dakota Trip 2013


Today we are exploring the Black Hills more, looking at Crazy Horse, the Needles Highway and Mount Rushmore. We also spend a bit more time in Custer State Park. The first stop was Crazy Horse Memorial. Crazy Horse was an Oglala Lakota war leader. He fought against the encroachments of the United States Government, including leading the victory against General Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He is a famous hero for many Native American people. In a memorial to him, probably inspired by Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial is a massive mountain carving project. While the heads of the four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet high, the head alone of the Crazy Horse Memorial will be 87 feet high. The sculpture was commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder. It is being carved by Korczak Ziolkowski.DSCN09201.

The last picture shows a model of what the completed sculpture will look like. In the background, you can see the actual mountain. If you are in the area, I really recommend going to Crazy Horse Memorial. It is an impressive sight, and since it is still in progress, some days you can see them blasting the mountain. They could also really use your money and support to work on both completing the structure and the general complex, which includes museums, cultural centers and plans for a campus.

They also had good food. The Indian Taco was particularly delicious, on frybread.

After spending a good amount of time at Crazy Horse Memorial, we went to drive around the Black Hills some more, particularly on the Needles Highway. An interesting thing about the Black Hills is that they could be described as a ‘dome’ rising up from the flatter land. Since the center of the ‘dome’ is up higher and more subject to erosion, the rock that is visible deeper into the middle of the Black Hills area is harder, older rock, from the lower layers of the strata. Therefore, you have the Needles. They are tall, smooth pillars of hard granite. The Needles Highway explores them and gives you fantastic vistas of the Black Hills.

Here are some pictures from the Needles Highway, and the surrounding formations.

After the Needles Highway, we spent some time in Custer State Park looking at yet more wildlife. Buffalo and pronghorn abound, and there is even a section of road where there are Begging Burros. These donkeys are friendly and will come up to your car window and take food from your hands. They were very gentle in taking our treats.

We also drove by Mount Rushmore. Our actual visiting of Mount Rushmore was planned for the next day, but we did get up to it and see it from the road. We snagged some side profile shots of Washington too!

I will talk more about Mount Rushmore tomorrow. Today was a good day though, which really showed me what the Black Hills were about. Seeing Crazy Horse was very cool, as was seeing the incredibly iconic monument of Mount Rushmore.

Series Navigation<< Fourth Day: Caves and MammothsSixth Day: More Rushmore, and Sylvan Lake too! >>

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