Back to the roadtrip: Mount Rushmore

I'm back to posts that detail our August roadtrip. So far we've been to the North Dakota badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park, and Devils Tower. At the halfway-point of our two weeks, we're technically on the way back home -- but there's so much more to see!

We hadn't planned on stopping at Mount Rushmore, but since we'd be essentially driving past it as we left Devils Tower and made our way to the South Dakota badlands, it would be silly not to stop, right?


I'm not sure exactly where these photos of the wonderful rolling hills were taken, but since a large part of this trip has been spent getting to the various destinations, we've learned to enjoy what we saw along the way.

I certainly enjoyed these views. (Note: as similar as they are, they are not part of a panorama. It took me a few attempts at creating one before I realized.)

We had two choices for roads to Mount Rushmore, and since we were becoming weary of driving in this rattling, underpowered machine I chose the more direct, faster route. In hindsight that was probably a mistake, as I believe the other choice would have been much more scenic and enjoyable. Of course it may also have included much more uphill driving (which is not so enjoyable), so maybe it was better that I didn't go that way.

The area leading up to the national monument is 98% touristy. Yes I saw fudge advertised. Yes there were "wild" animals to be seen up close. Yes there were go-carts. Unavoidable I guess, but certainly illustrated why we have protected Parks and Monuments -- this sort of commercialism would encroach on all of the natural spaces and spoil them.

Eventually we got our first glimpse of the monument:

I have to admit, it's not overly impressive from this distance. After we actually were inside the attraction though, things really picked up:

One thing that bothered me somewhat: they sure left a lot of rubble! I'd like to see a "before" shot of the mountain to see how much rock they needed to remove.

As human accomplishments go, this is certainly huge. When seen in reference to the surroundings though, even this major undertaking is relatively small:

Having seen enough from this distance, we then proceeded onto the walkway that puts you as close to the "action" as you can get, and the views were much more impressive -- if not the best angle at which to view these:

Note that the trees are in the foreground -- they're not actually blocking the view of the former Presidents.

What amazed me most was reading about how this was created. About 14 years, 400 workers -- most of the rock removed by blasting. After gaining some experience, they got to the point that they were doing most of the sculpting with the dynamite, and only minor cleanup work by hand was required. Amazing that they could be so precise!

There was beauty in the surroundings too:

Still though, it's difficult not to keep staring upward, especially with these stony giants peeking through the trees:

I love that you can see the drill and chisel marks in many areas:

So although we hadn't planned on stopping, we were certainly glad we did -- this ended up being one of the highlights of the trip (although it seems that the trip had highlights every day).

Next up: Badlands National Park in South Dakota.


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Charlie@Seattle Trekker  – (October 1, 2013 at 10:30 PM)  

There is something special when you visit Mt Rushmore. It is hard to explain, but it touches you the way it does when you visit the Lincoln Memorial. I am glad you stopped.

Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (October 2, 2013 at 3:11 AM)  

Amazing. Best photos of the monument I've ever seen.

Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (October 2, 2013 at 3:14 AM)  

Photo 7/20 center rock foreground...looks like a face looking left

Alan  – (October 2, 2013 at 6:36 AM)  

Charlie: agreed! Something special there indeed.

Maywyn: thanks for the compliment!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 2, 2013 at 12:12 PM)  

Always wanted to go there since watching Hitchcock's North by Northwest as a child :-).

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