Yellowstone & Teton Nat Park to Mount Rushmore (South Dakota)
From battlefields and forts to the Historic Governor’s Mansion to the Oregon Trail ruts, Wyoming’s historic sites are home to a rich and diverse history. Wyoming played a significant role in forming the West as we know it. Sitting around our campfire at night we can only imagine what it would be like to be a cowboy or Indian in 18th and 19th centuries.
As we left Yellowstone National Park from the central East entrance, we followed Buffalo Bill Cody scenic Byway, via Sylvan Pass, Shoshone National Forest, Wapiti Valley, and the Buffalo Bill Dam, which is a prototype for the world-famous Hoover Dam, its dam wall is over 100 meters high.
Next stop Cody, the rodeo capital of the world. The city was founded by the most authentic representative of the Old West, Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. His name still conjures up guns, buckskins, horses, and the Old West.
For a taste of the real American West, Cody, Wyoming is a good place to start. We had a drink at the famous Irma Hotel and its cherrywood bar and watched the Gunfighters perform live outside the hotel. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center is where you find 5 museums under the one roof.
Leaving Cody, we crossed the Bighorn Mountains. This was an amazing drive with breathtaking vistas of distant peaks. This route connects Buffalo and Ten sleep Canyon.
Enroute to Buffalo we stopped at Lake de Smet, for a few days R&R. This was our second paid campsite (15.00 USD per night without facilities) since we entered the USA in June. The location was nice but had a complete lack of privacy with those bloody huge trailers and motorhomes with the generator running. You would think they would invest in solar. Having said this, most owners spend the day inside in the aircon PFFFFFFFFFF. We left the following day and found ourselves a nice place in the forest.
Tourism is South Dakota’s second-largest industry, and Mount Rushmore is the state’s top tourist attraction.
We entered South Dakota via the Black Hills from New Castle. The Black Hills contain a mix of National and State parks, monuments, memorials, and scenic byways. This area in the middle of the vast prairie has become a centre of creation. Most known are Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, with 2 of the greatest sculptors in the USA. Gutzon Borglum (Mt Rushmore) and the Polish orphan Korczak Ziolkowski (Crazy Horse memorial)
Amid the Hills lies Custer State Park, the great wildlife refuge where 1,700 buffalo roam free, and the famous Needles highway. The Needles highway is not passable for vehicles over 3 meters in height or 2.2 meters wide, hence we turned around and continued to Crazy Horse Memorial just 10KM north of Custer.
Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial is a beautiful and unique monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The memorial is a living tribute to the Native American people and a beacon of hope for the future. This continually evolving sculpture and surrounding cultural centre is a must-see destination. It has been 75 years since the first blast began to reveal the likeness of Lakota leader Crazy Horse in the granite on Thunderhead Mountain in southwestern South Dakota. His name was Henry Standing Bear. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Native American territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people. Continuing the progress on the world’s largest sculpture, engineered by the great sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, Crazy Horse Memorial is being carved out of a mountain of rock and according to our tour guide will be at least another 15 years before it is completed. The sculpture is higher than the Washington Monument, Larger than the Giza Pyramid in Egypt and all 4 heads at Mt Rushmore could fit inside the head of Crazy Horse when finished.
Unable to stay overnight in the park we camped just outside the gate and had a view of the nightly lightshow from a distance. The laser-light show effectively turns the mountainside into a giant 160-meter-wide screen performing a spectacular display. The Crazy Horse Memorial honours the Native Americans, and “Legends in Light” dramatizes the story of the rich heritage, living cultures and contributions by Native Americans to the USA society.
Over two million people visit Mount Rushmore each year.
America’s Shrine of Democracy, Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the 18-meter height of four great American presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, carved into the rugged granite mountainside in the Black Hills of South Dakota. These four U.S. Presidents represent the birth, growth, development, and preservation of the USA according to the guide. (Not everyone agreed?)
The sculpture was designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, and he called it the Shrine of Democracy. It took from 1927 to 1941 to build. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States and has been on our bucket list for years. In fact, we have a sticker printed on our motorhome. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial represents a national treasure. Symbolizing the ideals of freedom and democracy, it is a tribute to four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and their invaluable contributions to the USA.
The 4 presidents, who were they?
George Washington Born 1732 died 1799 George Washington led the colonists in the American Revolutionary War to win independence from Great Britain. He was the father of the new country and laid the foundation of American democracy.
Thomas Jefferson Born 1743 Died 1826 Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, a document which inspires democracies around the world. He also purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 which doubled the size of what is now the USA.
Theodore Rooseveld Born 1858 died 1919 Theodore Roosevelt provided leadership when America experienced rapid economic growth as it entered the 20th Century. He was instrumental in negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal, linking the east and the west.
Abraham Lincoln Born 1809 died 1865 Abraham Lincoln held the USA together during its greatest trial, the Civil War. He believed his most sacred duty was the preservation of the union. It was his firm conviction that slavery must be abolished.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial represents not only the past, but also a promise for the future. When entering the park you walk past the flags of all 50 states, one district, three territories and two commonwealths of the United States of America.
After we left Crazy Horse Memorial and Mt Rushmore, we could not stop thinking of all the hardship and the human history surrounding the Black Hills area. I reminded us on the hardship the aboriginals endured when white man took over the land in the early 1900’s in Australia.
There was some controversy. Originally the local historian wanted the faces of American west heroes, such as Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody and Lakota Chief Crazy Horse. And the controversy continues today as the land was taken from the Sioux Indians in the 1870’s. Despite a court ruling in 1980 that all the US Government had to do is compensate them $102 million USA, the Sioux refused the money, and they demand the return of the land. This conflict continues as of today.
Till Next time when we visit the northern Black Hills and Badlands National ParkThis entry was posted in Latest Update