To Alaska and Back travel blog

Paul sees Mt. Rushmore

It's a pigtail

Hello, again.

First I neglected to tell you yesterday that here at the Badlands KOA we are 1284 miles from home in Greensburg. Also we saw a mountain goat yesterday near the Pinnacles overlook. Today we saw a mountain sheep and a steer in the road - had to stop to let him decide which side of the road he wanted to go to.

Today we visited the Black Hills. (The Lakota, I learned, called the Badlands the white rocks and the black hills the black rocks.) First we took the scenic route thru the Badlands to Rapid City, from where we proceeded to the Rushmore Memorial. It had been raining, sometimes heavily, on the hour and a half drive to the mountain, but the weather cleared and we got a clear view of the faces. We then drove sort of around the mountain to get a profile view. From there we drove the Norbeck Scenic Byway. It includes 3 pigtails (think corkscrews), 4 one lane tunnels and lots of switchbacks - all together a beautiful and interesting drive. The pigtails are really a variation on a screw to get cars up and down very steep parts of the mountain. One drives under a bridge around and over the bridge, coming out 20 or 30 feet, I guess, higher or lower depending on the direction. Very interesting! The tunnels are cut thru the rock and each one features a view of the Memorial. We totally enjoyed the experience. From there we drove thru Custer State Park - where buffalo are being reintroduced to the area- to the Crazy Horse Memorial. Work has been going on there since 1948. The face of Crazy Horse has been completed, and work has started on the rider's out-stretched, pointing hand and on the head of his horse.

While the sculpture is certainly impressive, I was more taken with the Welcome Center. Displays of native dress, ornaments and tools as well as photos, prints and paintings have so much to teach about the culture of these people and their times. It is truly an engrossing experience.

We had planned to drive on to the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Drive, but time had passed and it was too late to do that. Perhaps we can do that drive and re-visit Wall Drug Store tomorrow.

I must say, I love this part of the world - the variety from wide open 360 degree views to incredible mountain scenery, small towns and larger cities. I could spend much more time here.

I also really like this campground. Pleasant sites for each camper, nice people on staff. It has been a positive experience being here.

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