We are back on the road at 7:30 on our third day continuing west across South Dakota. Our first destination is the Badlands but first we stopped at a rest area near Chamberlain, SD for a scenic view of the Missouri River. There is also a museum at the rest area celebrating the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
My flower of the day.
West of the Missouri River the landscape becomes more rugged and consists of rolling hills and instead of mile after mile of corn fields, ranches become more predominant.
Approaching the Badlands.
As we were traveling I was reminiscing about visiting the
Badlands back in the early 70s, and in my memory I remembered the Badlands as being ugly and boring. The Badlands are completely unlike other National Parks I have visited, but I guess I just didn't appreciate their beauty as a teenager because I had a completely different perspective of them this time. I found the rock formations and colors very fascinating.
The Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States.
These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world's richest fossil beds.
To the Lakota, this desolate land was known as "mako sica" meaning land bad.
Sod tables are remnants of the prairie that have resisted erosion.
One can literally look for miles and see no sign of civilization.
Bighorn Sheep are common in the park as well as Bison, Deer, Coyote, Prairie Dogs and over 30 other mammals.
Leaving the Badlands behind, our next stop is Wall Drug located in Wall, South Dakota.
Wall Drug consists of a drug store, gift shop, restaurant, museum, and various other stores all rolled into one big, huge roadside attraction/trap.
The world famous store got it's start during the Great Depression by offering free ice-water to road-weary travelers. Supposedly visited by up to 20,000 tourists a day, guests are still treated to free ice-water and coffee for a nickel.
I got the feeling if they don't sell it here, it probably isn't made!
Our next destination is Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I'm sure this is the most visited attraction in the state.
Sculptor Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers began drilling into the 5,725 foot mountain in 1927. It cost just under a million dollars and took 14 years to build.
Some interesting facts about Mount Rushmore:
Each head is about 60 feet high.
The eyes are 11 feet wide.
The noses are 20-21 feet long.
The mouth is 18 feet wide.
The sculpture is incomplete. Borglum's original plans were to carve the presidents in detail to the waist. Funding ran out and the carving stopped.
More than 450,000 tons of granite was removed during the carving of Mount Rushmore.
Although the work was dangerous, there were no deaths during the carving.
Jefferson was initially supposed to be on Washington's right. After months of work they realized it wasn't working and Jefferson's face was dynamited off the mountain and carved on the other side.
The Avenue of Flags, a walkway leading toward the mountain is flanked on both sides with flags of the country's 56 states and territories.
Crazy Horse Memorial
Started in 1948 the Crazy Horse Monument is an enormous sculpture in-progress also in the Black Hills. When and if ever completed, the monument will be 641 feet in length and 563 feet in height. In terms of size, the entire Mount Rushmore could fit inside the face of Crazy Horse.
Lodging for the night is the Wingate in Gillette, WY.
To be continued.....