- South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana; First Day: Driving from the Twin Cities to the Badlands
- Second Day: Hiking the Badlands
- Third Day: Leaving the Badlands (Kind of)
- Fourth Day: Caves and Mammoths
- Fifth Day: Carved Mountains and…Regular Mountains
- Sixth Day: More Rushmore, and Sylvan Lake too!
- Seventh Day: Rapid City and Wyoming
- Eighth Day: Montana
- Ninth Day: Devils Tower
- Tenth Day: Heading Home and Reflection
We had fun here, and planned to come back later tonight to see the Flag Lowering Ceremony. The talent that went into creating Mount Rushmore is amazing. 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved with dynamite. They only had to do fine details with jackhammers and chisels. It is really impressive because the faces look so smooth. It looks like if you were to run your hand over the face of one of the presidents, it would be smooth, like polished rock. I think they are rougher than they look due to their size, but nonetheless, it is beautiful work. We also took a tram ride at the Rushmore Tramway Adventures. This was located a little bit away from Mount Rushmore, but did offer a good view of it. It was mostly fun to take a tram ride and get an elevated view of the Black Hills. There was also a small park-like area on the top of the hill/mountain it took you up. We took this picture coming back down the tram.
The next destination was the beautiful Sylvan Lake. It seems to be a pretty popular destination, and rightly so. The granite formations here tower over you, setting a perfect backdrop for an already nice lake. It felt very relaxing. There were people just sitting on the side of the water and fishing, while others scrambled up the smaller granite formations. I could spend a lot of time here. I also really like the atmosphere of the pictures we took here.
We don’t have any pictures of it, but they also offered various watercraft rentals. My grandparents rented a paddle boat, and I rented what I think was called an AquaBike, or HydroBike. It had two pontoons with a bike frame in the middle. You pedaled the bike to turn a propeller in the back which moved you around the water. It looked unique and I had never tried something like it before. It was actually pretty fun, and stable too. If you have the time, I do recommend exploring Sylvan Lake by water, but it is a fantastic stop on its own.
Last of all, we stopped back at Mount Rushmore to see the lowering of the flag. There was a stage with an American flag on it, and some park officials invited all of the veterans from the audience to come and lower the flag. It was a nice respectful ceremony, and it was cool to see Mount Rushmore at night too. Here is the best picture I could get of the flag lowering ceremony.
After the flag lowering ceremony we went back to where we captured the side profile of Washington yesterday and got out of the car to take pictures again. The faces are lit up by large lights, but our pictures generally ended up blurry, so I didn’t post any. But, it was amazing. When we stepped out of the car, it was perfectly silent. Like, my ears started to ring. No bugs, no cars, no other people. Just the darkness of the night and utter silence. We were just quiet and experienced it for awhile. I would have stayed longer, but it was late, so we headed back.
A good end to a good day. I was also very excited because we decided to extend the trip and go to Wyoming, to see Devils Tower. I had always wanted to see it, and experience at least a bit of Wyoming. I will talk about that tomorrow though.