Rapid City, SC 7/20 - 7/24

On the way from Sheridan to Rapid City we left the motorhome at a rest stop and drove the 35 miles to visit Devils Tower National Monument. It was formed by volcanic action of lava being forced up through an opening in the earths crust. After millions of years the surrounding crust has eroded leaving the volcanic cylinder.

This is a very popular destination for climbers. So far this year almost 800 climbers have made it to the top. We walked around the base of the and saw at least six separate teams climbing it. The youngest climber to get to the top was seven years old and the oldest was 80. For you climbers the routes range from 5.6 to 5.14B






We are staying in Rapid City at the Lazy J RV Park and Campground. Due to Rapid City's proximity to the Rushmore attractions there is quite a selection of RV parks in this area. After seeing some of the others, we would not have stayed here; the sites are pretty closely packed. However, it is a clean park and the panoramic view from the edge of the park allows a view of about 100 miles. Rapid City is where the plains join the Badlands, so a little height provides a dramatic view of the plains.

On Friday we visited Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It has changed considerably since we last visited with the kids back in the early 70's. The biggest changes are the multilevel parking structure, the imposing entrance gate shown on the top of this frame, the state flagged walkway leading to the sunken visitor center, and the trails that lead you directly under the figures.

Mount Rushmore is another example of where one man, State Historian Doane Robinson, had an idea and sold it to the state and the nation. It was conceived in the mid twenties, started in the thirties and ended in 1941. I say ended because work was stopped when the war started leaving Lincoln uncompleted according to the model shown on the right. As you can see he was supposed to have an ear showing, his left hand should be holding on to his collar, and his hair was not completely finished. There are no plans to complete the Lincoln. The original plan was to show them from about the waist up, but they ran into a soft rock layer that couldn't be sculpted so they opted for just the heads and the parts of Lincoln that I mentioned above. The soft rock is that darker layer that goes across, what would be, Washington's stomach. The amazing statistic is the cost of the entire project was just over one million dollars. Today the environmental impact study alone would cost more than that. By the way, the models are sculpted 1 inch to a foot and they used that measurement to transfer the model to the mountain.

Our visit was cut short by a thunderstorm that came crashing through the park with the accompanying hail and wind. Fortunately we saw it coming and decided it was a good time to pay a visit to the Visitor Center.

On Saturday we visited Crazy Horse Memorial. This has been a work in progress since 1948 and it is all privately funded. The government tried to give them eleven million to help them, but they refused the money. I think most of the money comes from the $16.00 per car per day entrance fee they charge. That compares to the $8.00 parking fee at Rushmore that is good for a week.

Anyway as you can see they are making progress on it. The carved mountain is in the background and the white model is in the foreground. The face is completed and they are working on the horse's head now. If you look close enough, you can see the outline of the horse's head painted on the mountain. This is going to be a statue that can be viewed from both sides so it is much more of a project than Rushmore. To give you an idea of size, the four heads of Rushmore could fit above the outstretched arm.

We decided to stay in Rapid City a few more days but the RV Park we were in did not have any space for us so we had to move. We went down the road about 5 miles to the Happy Holiday Campground. It looked nice from the road, covered patio with tables, wide sites. The problem is you share patios with the next site. It's OK if the people next door are nice, but we prefer to have our own little area and if we want to talk with the people next door we can.

"Oh give me a hooome, where the buffalo roam, where the deeer and the antelope plaaay....". Well Custer State Park in the Black Hills is the place. This is a huge area that is mostly fenced off so the bison cannot get out and bother neighboring ranches and cities. The animals have not been hunted for close to 100 years so they have very little fear of humans. These antelope were eating along side the road.
The "Begging Burros" were on the road and actually were stopping traffic to beg for food. There were signs informing us that we could feed them. So they got carrots from us. This one liked the edge of the window frame for rubbing the top of his head.

A herd of approximately 500 of the 1500 Bison in the park.
"...where the buffalo roam...". These animals are BIG! They would wander across the road at will and stop all traffic. Of course most of the traffic was stopped anyway to look at them. It is also rutting season so the bulls were feeling pretty frisky. One of them was standing by the back of our car when he was challenged by another bull on the side of the road. When bull #1 started to run, it seemed our car was between where he was and where he wanted to be; needless to say I quickly cleared the room for him!