Mt. Rushmore, Custer Park
08.08.2010 - 08.08.2010 72 °F
We got back late last night and decided to wait until this morning to write about our adventures.
Friday evening after we had dinner, we drove out to Mt. Rushmore to see the lightning ceremony that they have every night (I videoed the entire ceremnoy for you). This ceremony is indeed a sight to behold. As we approached you could see the fiqures on the mountain but could not quite make out the features. Eevn as we entered the park it was difficult to make out the four different faces. The ceremony itself was very touching; first a Park Ranger talks and then they have a movie about the four different Presidents and at the end of the presentation the lights come on illuminating the the beauty at the top of the mountain. What a spectacular view. To end up the ceremony the Park Ranger invites all active and retired military veterans to the stage while a Boy Scout troop lowers the American Flag. the whole ceremony certainly tugged at my heart.
Yesterday (on Saturday) upon the advice of a couple, camping next to us, we took a coachbus tour (Mt. Rushmore Tours) provided by Ft. Hays. You can learn more about their tour by checking out their link at www.mountrushmoretours.com. We spent 9 hours starting out at Mount Rushmore (now I've seen in daylight and it still is very impressive) then traveling through Custer Park on the Iron Mountain road which is very narrow and winding. We drove through 3 tunnels that are directlly alined with Mt Rushmore. These tunnels were very tight for the bus but not as tight as the last one. More about that later. We didn't see a lot of wildlife during the first half of the tour. We stopped at "State Game Lodge" (made famous by Calvin Coolidge) for lunch where I had a big bowl of "Buffalo stew". It was delicious. After lunch traveling through Custer Park on the "Needles highway" and entered an area called the "Needles" which are hugh spires of rock that look like needles and from a distance resemble cathedrals. We had to drive through a tunnel that was 8' 4" wide and it's narrowest point. The bus (with mirrors) was 8' 2" wide being a 45' retired greyhound. It was amazing to watch the driver guide that bus through without touchin the sides at all. I wa slucky to sit inh the front and was in awe of his talent. At the other end there was a hugh crowd of spectators that were taking pictures of us driving through the tunnel.
We then continued towards the town of Custer and were very lucky to come upon a small herd of Buffalo at a ranch where they were being raised. These massive animals are something to behold when you first get to see one. They are suppose to be wild but this herd ambled right up to us and didn't appear shy what-so-ever. A cow buffalo actualy came to within an arm's length of us as we stood outside the bus to get pictures of the herd. She pawed the ground and snorted and then rolled over to scratch her back. It was quite the display, but rather intimidating because if she decided to charge us there wasn't any room to get away.
We traveled through the town of Custer and the then up to the progressing Crazy Horse monument which is very similiar to Mount Rushmore. This monument is no where near completion and will probably take another 20-30 year to finish.
Our guide and bus driver was extremely knowledgeable of the area having grown up right there and provided some wonderful commentary throughout the entire tour. All in all I found that the tour was worth every penny and we enjoyed it quite a bit.
Today, we are headed over to Stugis to see the motorcycle rally spectacle. Then we are going to be close to Dead wood so we are stopping there to see the sights