Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Day Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, State & National Parks
On the Road to Mount Rushmore
On our journey west a few years back we were anxious to summit Harney Peak, the high point of South Dakota, and since it is close by, decided to take in Mt. Rushmore in the process. Neither we nor the kids had seen it and we feel it is an important part of our history that you need to see to appreciate.
After spending our first night on the road camped at the Arrow Campground, a cute and comfortable campground in Wall, SD, so we could spend some time touring the infamous Wall Drug (which is, by the way, not to be missed and the subject of an upcoming post), we packed up and continued our journey west.
We had reserved a campsite near both the high point and Mt. Rushmore at Horse Thief Lake Campground in the Black Hills National Park. We stop first at our campsite to set up and remark that we could not have asked for a more beautiful spot! All set up, we move on to visit and admire our former presidents!
It is quite impressive, walking up to the monument from the parking lot. Along the pathway, lined with flags of all 50 states, the rocky likenesses of our former presidents peak out from underneath a stone archway as we approach the impressive tribute. We stand a few minutes in awe, just taking it all in, then must snap a few photos to preserve the memory and the moment.
We wander around the area, walk a few of the trails to get closer to the infamous figures and the kids climb a few rocks to challenge themselves. There are tours available with knowledgeable rangers that share some of the finer points of the monument and point out the things it is easy to miss. We eavesdrop on one of the tours and learn about the creation of the structure. We learn that approximately 400 workers worked to carve the images between October, 1927 and its completion in October, 1941 and that, even in spite of the extremely dangerous conditions in which they worked, no lives were lost during its creation. Even the kids are entranced as we listen to the story.
After exploring for several hours and snapping all the photos we could think of, it is time to move on. Of course after all of our exploration was completed, we couldn’t resist a trip through the lovely Visitor’s Center to pick up a few souvenirs of our adventure. But as we were walking back over to our car neither could we resist a final glance at the stone images of our former leaders through the rock archway lined with state flags, an impressive sight we will not soon forget. We are all a bit humbled and a little wiser, having made the trip and been in the presence of greatness.
For more things to see and do in South Dakota, read more about South Dakota camping.