We drove out of Custer State Park on the "Needles Highway" to Mount Rushmore. This was quite the aptly named road, for all the rock spires we could see.
We had strongly considered skipping Mount Rushmore, because Steve wasn't terribly interested in it, and I had seen it on a family driving trip (?40+) years ago and had memories that it just wasn't that great. I am SO glad that we went!
I was blown away by the scope of it, and the gorgeous detail in something so huge!
You can see the rubble pile beneath the monument, as evidence of what was blown out as the faces were carved. It was fascinating to learn how this was accomplished (90% with dynamite!) and without any loss of life. This was carved between 1927 and 1941. It really helped to have a telephoto lens to get up close and personal with each president.
As we were leaving, I checked off another mammal seen in this state - mountain goat. It was grazing in a distant employee parking lot, and had a tracking device around its neck.
As Steve is wont to do, he was talking... (this time with a local) -- which gave us a great tip to drive down a different highway than Needles, for only 5 miles, and we'd see the interesting pigtail wooden bridges needed to span the curves and terrain.
There were narrow tunnels on this road, as well as Needles Highway, with the narrowest being only 8 feet wide! As you passed through this tunnel pictured below, you could see Mount Rushmore framed through it. Unfortunately the light was wrong for my pictures to turn out.
The next day we drove through Spearfish Canyon on the scenic byway, and stopped to hike through this meadow and canyon:
to the waterfall.
Unfortunately, the signage for Spearfish Falls was either very poor or nonexistent, so we missed that sight, and didn't feel like backtracking once we noticed it by the road atlas.
Here's a hint of what the next post will start with, when we explore Wyoming: