Thursday, July 30, 2009

The South Dakota Sights: Part 2

Sylvan Lake, view from the top of the rocks

After leaving the Crazy Horse Memorial we headed over to Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. A few scenes from National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets was filmed in this area which is about 30 miles from Mount Rushmore. Despite what the movie depicts, there is no lake near Rushmore but I am glad we discovered this little treasure.

Custer State Park is filled with all sorts of eye candy and we explored the trails around Sylvan Lake. The views were spectacular however certain parts of the trail was a little treacherous. I would recommend tennis shoes if you plan on making the hike.

All of the lakes in the Black Hills, including Sylvan, are man made which is fact I did not know prior to arriving there. Everything looks so natural like God had planned it perfectly. The fact that this lake is man made does not subtract from it's beauty.

The trail runs behind the rocks in the background and the rocks in the foreground are accessible for the brave hikers. I made the climb on those rocks. Tobey stayed behind ready to call 911 in case I fell. This would be the spot we suffered the first of our three falls during our trip. Tobey had taken one step up the rocks and decided not to go further as I journeyed on up for the 'perfect shot'. On the way back I handed over the camera just in case I slipped and all he had to do was take the one step down. He fell. The camera banged against the rocks. I made it down ok to check on the camera Tobey. He was fine and so was the camera.

After we left the lake we stopped off in Hill City to have lunch at Desperado's Cowboy Restaurant. Tobey ordered the chili and I had the biggest chili dog known to man. Everything was delicious and reasonably priced. There are lots of touristy things to do in Hill City but we were on a time schedule to get to Rushmore and if truth be known: we were tired from our hike around Sylvan Lake.

With full bellies we made the quick drive to Mount Rushmore. We were so busy looking at this:

that we didn't realize that Mount Rushmore was right behind us. We paid the $10 parking fee and made our way up the steps to enter the site.

Once you enter Rushmore and get past the gift shop and munchie area this is the first sight you will see. The Avenue of Flags forms the walkway up to the monument viewing area. Below the viewing area and accessible by stairs or elevator is the amphitheatre. While this area was very crowded with people milling around and taking pictures the amphitheatre was empty and was the perfect place to take pictures.

There is a Presidential Walk that goes closer to the monument but it had begun to rain so we went into the Borglum Museum and looked around a bit and caught a quick movie on the history of the monument.

I snapped this picture inside the museum and it is of the original view of what the monument was designed to be. It seems that the project ran out of money and thus the bodies were never added to the monument and there are no plans to ever add them. Interestingly enough, Jefferson was originally supposed to be to Washington's right and after much work on the mountain Borglum changed his mind and blasted Jefferson off the mountain and placed him to Washington's left.

I read somewhere that there is supposed to be some sort of magic-eye effect to the right of Lincoln and some say that they see an Indian Chief looking towards the monument. I couldn't find him but I did see something else. First, take a look at this close-up of Teddy Roosevelt.

Is it Jesus? Did Teddy have bad forehead acne? I don't know but now when I see the monument all I can focus on is that spot!

We waited for the rain to subside and wanted to stick around for the nightly fireworks show I heard about. Come to find out that Rushmore only does fireworks once a year, on July 3rd. The rain clouds continued to come upon us like sheets and after some shopping and ice cream we headed back to the hotel.

Another Nat Geo shot: Mrs. Oh with ice cream and sidewalk perspective

One thing to note of course is that the gift shop trinkets are a tad pricey. The Wal-Mart at Rapid City has a nice selection of t-shirts and do-dads for half the price. Some of the items, like snowglobes, were actually more expensive at the Wally World but the t-shirts were a steal.

All in all, it was a phenomenal and exhausting day. Tomorrow we will tackle the Badlands and 1880 Town and the sights along the way!



Hi, I'm happy to hear you have had a good time in South Dakota. Great blog and great photos! I hope you get a chance to visit us again!

SD Office of Tourism

Thanks Kayleen - I actually used your site to help plan our trip, it was a wealth of information!

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