Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Needles Highway

We had a good breakfast of eggs and bacon and set off for Mount Rushmore. The route from Badlands KOA took us through more of the Badlands State Park, and we took the dirt road route through the more remote part of the park in the hopes of seeing buffalo. We saw one in the distance, that was all.

One thing that I have not mentioned is the number of motorbikes we saw on the road. Thousands of them. We found out later that there is the annual motor bike rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. This year is the 70th anniversary, hence the number of attendees. We heard that anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 bikers were at the event. I can believe it!

When we got to Mount Rushmore we were almost crowded out of the parking lot by motor bikes! A $10 fee to park and the Monument is actually free. It is very impressive, with granite pillars all the way up to the viewing area. On each pillar are the names and flags of 4 States. Each one occupying the 4 faces of the pillars.

The view of the carvings is very awe inspiring. What a feat!! We were there about 30 minutes, took lots of photos and then left. After the stop at Mount Rushmore, we took the Needles highway to Custer State Park.

The primary reason that we went into Custer State Park was to see the wildlife - buffalo. We drove the wildlife route and saw a few buffalo in a far off grove of trees, a couple of deer and 2 wild donkeys.  After Custer we drove to the statue of Crazy Horse that is still a work in progress. We took a couple of photos, but did not go into the park.

A quick drive back to Rapid City and then pressed on West. We stopped at Spearfish KOA, which was chock a block full of motorcycles and bikers and their families. camped in all manner of camping gear from tents all the way up to million dollar motor homes. The campground owners were absolutely great and managed to find us a corner in their overflow section (an open field) and charged us a discount rate, which was nice.

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