A Travellerspoint blog

Mt Rushmore and Custer State Park, South Dakota

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

sunny 28 °C

Full day of sightseeing today, starting with another trip to the Mt Rushmore National Memorial. Not sure why, but it's not a "National Park" or "National Monument"; it's a "National Memorial".

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There are workers on top of Teddy Roosevelt's head today. They are setting up for the July 3 fireworks (I don't know why July 3; it seems like they should be July 4, Independence Day).

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We tour the sculptors studio and walk the Presidential Trail at the base of the mountain.

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Here is a photo of the amphitheatre that they use for the evening program:
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After completing our Jr Ranger program activities (and getting our badge), we leave Mt Rushmore and head over to Keystone for an outdoor lunch.

We then take off for a very scenic drive on the Iron Mountain Drive with it's spiral bridges and narrow tunnels.

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We make a few stops on the Iron Mountain Parkway and then continue to the Needles Highway, with its' narrow roads and tunnels. Including the famous Needles Tunnel:
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There are several mountain climbers practicing their skills at the Needles stop. A man was killed here several days ago when he fell 70 feet at this spot, but the climbers today appear oblivious to the danger and appear to be enjoying their climbing.

The pinecones are just beginning to form on the pine trees here. They're really pretty:
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We also make a stop at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park and hike around the very pretty lake:
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We return to the KOA for dinner, followed by two games of miniature golf, thunderstorms, and very slow wifi/computer time in the evening. Nice campground, but they need to work on their wifi.

Posted by jengelman 10:18 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Deadwood and Mt Rushmore at Night, South Dakota

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

sunny 29 °C

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We leave Devils Tower KOA and take off toward Deadwood, South Dakota.

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Our drive to Deadwood includes a drive on the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, where we stop by a waterfall for lunch in the 5ver. The drive is nice, but after all the beautiful scenery that we've seen the last few weeks this scenic byway is nothing special.

We stop in Deadwood and look at their visitor center and walk around town. The entire town is a historical landmark and some of the restored old buildings have really interesting architecture.

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But the restoration of the town has been financed by gambling, so almost every building appears to be a casino of some sort. I guess it is appropriate for a town of Deadwood's reputation to be financed by casinos, but there's not much to do there except gambling, so we don't spend much time there.

We continue our scenic drive to the Hill City/Mt Rushmore KOA. It is a huge campground! Check-in is fairly quick and we get a nice campsite in the back of the campground near the national forest, near the tenting and cabin area. We set up, relax a little, have dinner, and then head down the road to view the Mt Rushmore evening program. We first look at the museum and the visitor center's movie.

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Each evening in the summer Mt Rushmore National Memorial has a special program with a slide show and special night lighting of the mountain. The program is very patriotic. It's nice, but borders on being a glorified tourist trap.

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Posted by jengelman 10:14 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Monday, June 23, 2008

semi-overcast 27 °C

We pack up and leave the 7th Ranch RV Park and drive several hours through the prairies of Montana. We pass lots and lots and lots of pronghorn antelope in the fields beside the road. We drive through Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations on our way to Devils Towner, Wyoming.

One section of our drive has fields of blue wildflowers beside the road. Very pretty.

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We set up at the Devils Tower KOA and head over to Devils Tower National Monument. As we drive into the monument we first past "prairie dog town". Lots of prairie dogs on both sides of the street.

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We visit the visitors center/museum and then hike around the bottom of Devils Tower.

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We have a nice relaxing walk til we come upon two guys who tell us that there's a rattlesnake just off the trail. There are lots of signs to warn hikers to beware of rattlesnakes, but I honestly didn't think we'd see any considering all of the people on the trail. We watch the 5 foot long snake until it starts heading in our directions, and then I walk away. Joe looks at the snake through the binoculars and doesn't see any rattles on the end, so we're not sure what kind of snake it is, but I'm a little freaked out that it seems to be unafraid of people and heading in our direction.

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We finish our walk around the base of the mountain and head back to the campground for a swim in the pool. We come back from the pool and watch two busloads of high school students from Michigan set up many, many tents behind us. I guess they're on some sort of field trip. It's interesting, they even have their own kitchen set up, complete with tables & benches.

We were hoping to watch the movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (which has several scenes at Devils Monument) in the evening. Unfortunately we have some thunderstorms come through the area and the movie, which is shown outside at the campground every night, is cancelled tonight :-(

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Posted by jengelman 08:07 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Little Bighorn National Monument: Custer's Last Stand

Sunday, June 22, 2008

semi-overcast 26 °C

We pack and leave Yellowstone RV Park and Inn in Wapiti, and start our 200 mile drive through Big Horn National Forest.

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We stop at 7th Ranch RV Park (we assume it's "7th" name is taken from General Custer's 7th Infantry), set up the 5ver and then take off to Little Bighorn National Monument (formerly known as Custer National Monument). We look at the museum and watch their movie, just like we do in every national park/monument and then take the drive around the battlefield, stopping at information signs.

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We stop at the far end of the drive and take a short walk to look at the markers; each killed solder has a grave marker placed where they think he was killed. We've been stuck in the car for much of the day so we're glad to get outside for a walk.

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On the way back toward the visitor center we see a group of indians (the park is surrounded by the Crow Indian Reservation) rounding up a herd of horses. We pretend to read an information sign along the road, but are actually watching them try to round up these horses using a 4-wheeler. We watch them chase the horses for about 5 minutes and then decide we should move on. Not sure if they ever got those horses in the corral.

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The tour ends at a memorial to the Lakota Indians killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn. The memorial is well designed and we enjoy looking at it.

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We see a storm brewing to the west of us, so we hop back in the truck and return to the trailer for dinner. The storm never reaches us, but the lightning show in the distance is phenomenal and entertains us. One lightning bolt after another.

Posted by jengelman 10:01 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Cody, Wyoming Rodeo

Saturday, June 21, 2008

sunny 27 °C

We want to see the Cody rodeo tonight so we decide to stay another day at the Yellowstone RV Park and Inn in Wapiti, Wyoming.

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Our last grocery trip was about two weeks ago, so we start the day by making a trip in town for lots and lots of groceries and getting two prescriptions refilled at Wal-Mart. I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart pharmacy, but it's great to get prescriptions refilled while on the road.

We return to the campground for lunch and some time at the campground's swimming pool. The scenery is unique at this pool: Wyoming mountains and horses roaming around the field across from the pool. Joe is thrilled to spend time in the pool and keeps us there for as long as possible.

After swimming we drive into Cody, Wyoming to walk around the old town. I look at several "cowgirl" shirts, but don't purchase any. Joe convinces us to eat dinner at Wendy's versus a local restaurant so he's happy about dinner.

After dinner we walk down to Buffalo Bill's original Cody hotel, The Irma, for a gunfight. It's kind of corny/cheesy but the price is right--free. The guy portraying Wild Bill Hickok sounds exactly like Kevin Costner, so I give him a good look and decide there is no way that it really is Kevin Costner; too bad.

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We do some souvenir shopping after the gunfight and notice that they have started to set up the Grizzlies on Parade artwork along the main street. These are grizzly bear statues that artist name and paint accordingly. We have seen Pigs on Parade, Cows on Parade, Ponies on Parade, etc and always enjoy looking at the creativity some of the artists portray in painting these statues.

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Then we head down to the Cody Wyoming Rodeo.

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They do a rodeo show every night during the summer and it turns out to be a lot of fun. The cowboys are not as talented as the national professional rodeo circuit, but still lots of fun to watch. They have quite a crowd there, with people from all around the country and even some international visitors.

Our favorites are the clowns, bronco riding and bull riding. The show is very "Wyoming" and enjoyed by all.

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Posted by jengelman 10:56 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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