Left the sandstone buildings of Hot Springs, SD and started climbing right away into Wind Cave National Park. We rode through short grass prairie interspersed with pine forests. The early morning light accentuated the shadows and it was just so beautiful... seems like we say this every day, and aren't we lucky to be seeing our country like this! We had a giant buffalo cross the road in front of us, saw prong horn sheep grazing and drinking at a water hole, and of course lots of prairie dogs - a novelty for some.
From there we rode into Custer then headed up into the Black Hills towards the Crazy Horse Monument and Mt Rushmore. First stop Crazy Horse Monument.There is still a great deal to do to complete the monument, but it's an impressive idea, if they pull it off. The museum at the base is a reminder, at least to Mimi and me of how badly we white folks treated the American Indian peoples. We understand that in 1868 the US government made an agreement with the Indian people here to leave the Black Hills alone and to protect it. By 1874, just six short years, the government had reneged on the agreement because there was gold in them thar hills. Sadly this happened again and again.
Next, Mt. Rushmore - lots of uphill to get there, but beautiful riding with pine forests and fabulous rock outcroppings to view as we ground our way up - and well worth the trip. Sadly, however, much of the forest en route to Mt. Rushmore have been devastated by the pine beetle. They are working to contain it, but it is a losing battle.
Seeing Mt. Rushmore is impressive. Polly was there last summer, but I had never been there. In fact, I am not sure I have ever even been in South Dakota before. Anyway, the story of how Gutzon Borglum built it is quite remarkable and in his words, "The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation and the unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt." If you are interested in more, here's a link: Mt. Rushmore History and Culture Really, it is hard to put into words the scale of it, I would just recommend that you visit!
After hanging out there, we trucked on into Rapid City, mostly down hill - whoopee!
Miles - 74
Total Miles - 1629
Elevation Gain - 6440
Next Stop - Wall, South Dakota
Link to Mimi's Garmin info
|Hot Springs City Hall with the|
notable red sandstone
|Hot Springs railroad station|
|Entering Wind Cave National Park|
|The gorgeous grassland|
|We pretty much rode through the entire park on the road that you see on the left|
|Willa Cather's words describe the grasslands well.|
|Bison or American Buffalo - Big old guy|
|Classic old spot|
|Circle up those wagons!|
|We didn't see elk, and we didn't|
|A small herd grazing, and, they are|
much bigger than they look!
|Another kind of Bison in Custer, SD|
|Crazy Horse from afar|
|And up close - note the chalk where the horse's head will be|
|What the monument should look like finished - the hole you see above is the beginning of the space under his arm. Note the size of the buildings for relative scale|
|Arrowhead display at the Crazy Horse museum - just thought it was cool|
|The visible effects of pine beetle damage|
|The road into Mt. Rushmore|
|Tourist shot of Mimi at Mt. Rushmore|
|Polly (with serious hat hair) and Mimi|
with the Presidents
|Impressive words here and below from the four|
|Looking back as we left - Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln|
|Rapid City here we come|