On our drive from Chicago to Stettler, Alberta, we decided we had to take a swing by Mount Rushmore. We were crossing through South Dakota anyway and we knew we would regret it later if we passed it up.
They were in the process of renovating the entire visitors centre so we couldn’t walk up any closer. : (
The detail on the sculptures is amazing. This photo right here looks like its computer generated just superimposed on a mountain-side.
At the monument is a huge grant plaque listing the names of each person who worked on Mount Rushmore between 1927 and 1941. We were pleasantly surprised to see that members of the McLaughlin and Hayes families (brother-in-law) on that list.
Custer State Park
On the way out from Mount Rushmore is Custer State Park. You can drive to its highest point, called Norbeck Overlook.
As you make your way up, you drive through tunnels dug out of the mountain with direct views of Mount Rushmore. Some pretty tight switch-back turns too.
Custer State Park also had wild animals including bison free roaming, so we took a drive through. Its like Park Omega, just not staged with different sections containing different animals.
We encountered a few cars parked on the shoulder near a pack of wild (?) mules. The mules were happy to eat the carrots the tourists were passing out. We weren’t prepared for that, but one of the other ladies shared some baby carrots with to feed the mules.
Mackenzie wasn’t too sure she wanted to get out of the truck. : )
Only 1 hour or so from Mount Rushmore was Devils Tower.
We arrived late in the afternoon around 3:15pm. It turned out well because there weren’t a lot of visitors around.
The tower was the first national monument in the US park service. It has a number of paved pathways that circle the base of the tower. We thought the fact they were paved was really cool as it made the tower much more accessible to the public.
While Gina, Abby, and I walked the 2 km trail around the tower, Taylor and Mackenzie chose to climb the boulders to the base.
Devils Tower actually featured in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind“. I just loved that movie when I was a kid.
The model for the alien ship that lands at Devils Tower in the movie was actually on display at the Air and Space Museum and we got to see it first hand.
Honestly I never thought I’d ever visit this place. For some reason I thought it was in the middle of the desert somewhere.
We walked all the way around and sadly, there was no hidden alien landing strip. : (