Hike to the top of Harney Peak. It is the highest point in elevation between the Rockies and the Pyrenees. The elevation is 7242 ft. above sea level.
The roundtrip hike will take a couple of hours, so make sure you bring water, and some snacks to enjoy up at the top, the view is great.
Here is a picture of the view from the top, I am that little speck in the middle of the photo.
South Dakota, and especially Custer State Park is a great place to mountain bike. There are a number of great trails, including the 110-mile Centennial trail. The trails range from moderate to very technical on the Centennial Trail, if you are looking for a fun ride the whole family can do, try the nearby Mickelson Trail, it is old converted railroad bed, so it is not very steep, but still quite scenic.
It is difficult to convey the size and scale of this incredible project. Even when looking from the visitor center viewing platform, it is difficult to comprehend that this massive sculpture is a mile away.
But imagine this - an estimated 4,000 people could stand atop Crazy Horse's outstretched arm. And all four presidents' heads at Mount Rushmore could fit in his head. The feather alone will stand stand 44 feet.
Local tribesmen provide entertainment in the form of traditional dancing on the observation desk. Future plans include a North American Indian museum, a university and medical training center, all to be built on the land between the visitor center and the monument.
(Note - we were pleasantly surprised to meet friends from church at home while watching this performance.)
In another area of the visitor center grounds, these highly skilled Indian musicians were performing songs which I believed to be traditional (I know little about Indian music), but with contemporary elements. The result was some hauntingly beautiful music.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful lakes in South Dakota, Sylvan Lake offers spectacular recreational opportunities with a serene ambiance. The lake is nestled at the base of Harney Peak, and surrounded by impressive rounded rock formations and ponderosa pine trees. The unique rock formations surrounding the lake were formed in the same manner as the Needles: igneous and metamorphic rocks were uplifted, and weather has since shaped the rocks into their current form. The Needles spires are sharper and more pointy than the rocks around Sylvan Lake because the Needles were formed as closely spaced joints. The rounded forms of granite around the lake, on the other hand, were produced by widely spaced joints. Once at Sylvan Lake, take a swim, test your fishing skills, or go kayaking or canoeing. If you do not have your own water craft, you can rent one at the general store. The beaches also provide an excellent place to sunbathe in the summer. We had hours of fun on Sylvan Lake.
We stopped along Needles Highway Scenic Drive to take photographs of the scenery and animals. We got out climbing the rocks and viewing scenery from varied vantage points.
The 14 mile route threads through the oddly shaped, weathered granite spires from which the highway derives its name. Several hairpin curves are encountered, as are narrow tunnels. The tunnel dimensions are 12 feet by 8 feet, 4 inches and 12 feet, 3 inches by 9 feet. Note: Due to the narrowness of the route, those with large trailers or motor homes should use extreme caution. Allow 1 hour minimum.
The Park Rangers were so knowledgeable & informative we were impressed. They shared maps and specific directions of where to locate each animal. We found ourselves surrounded by a herd of bison, in a praire dog community, feeding a burro, very close to deer & antelopes. It was a wonderful time!
Park open daily 24 hours. Park headquarters open Mon.-Fri. 7:30-5. Nature programs are scheduled Memorial Day-Labor Day; phone ahead for schedule.
A 7-day license is available for $5 per person or $12 per private vehicle. Annual license $23 per private vehicle ($11.50 for second vehicle)
Custer State Park, 5 mi. e. on US 16A, comprises 71,000 acres of the South Dakota Black Hills and is the habitat of one of the world's largest free-roaming bison herds, numbering about 1,500. More than 180 bird species also inhabit the park. Three scenic drives traverse the area: Needles Highway/SR 87, Wildlife Loop Road and Iron Mountain Road (US 16A). The Wildlife Visitor Center, Wildlife Loop Road, and the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center, 15 miles east of Custer City on US 16A, offer exhibits and information about the state. More than 60 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails are available, and the park's mountain streams and four man-made lakes provide fishing, swimming and boating opportunities. Guided nature walks and other programs are offered.
This place is affordable. It is only $4.00 per person and comes with a tape recorder as to what you are looking at as you go through it. It is built in the site of an old city where there was also a fort at one time. It get's it's name from the fact that this watering whole is 4 miles from Custer. There is a great deal of history on the tape and to look at. It has more potential than what is there. Much needs to continue to be fixed up and organized. But what they have so far is fun. Little ones are given a badge as they go in and sometimes they deputize them if they are old enough. The sheriff checks on you during the tour to make sure the adults are behaving themselves and points out the jail.
The whole thing is done with a great sense of humor! It is a great ghost town.
The pharoahs would be proud of this gargantuan project to create the world's largest sculpture as a memorial to the proud warrior who epitomized Native American culture and life on the frontier. "Make no small plans" - indeed!
Actually, the artistic monument is only one part of an ambitious overall scheme. If all goes according to plan, eventually there will be a major medical center, schools and a university, housing, cultural facilities, and an entire permanent community here.
At Mount Rushmore National Park is this bust of Gutzon Borglum. It is facing the Monument. Probably so Borglum, in effigy, can admire his work in perpetuum.
It is on the main mall to the entrance to the monument observation area. Because the bust is facing the monument, one may walk past at first without noticing it. I noticed the monument and it is blank as one approaches from the entrance. (From behind the bust.) Being curious as to what it was I saw standing in the middle of the mall, I stopped and peaked around the other side and this is what I saw.
Admission was $10.00 and another $4.00 was for the bus to take us near the monument.
Tribute to the Native Americans. Memorial incl. world's largest mountain carving in progress. 17 mi. from Mt. Rushmore. Family attraction open year round Native Artists, Museum gift shop. Many special events. Restaurant open mid May–Oct. Fun for kids
Crazy Horse Memorial is 4 mi. n. on US 16/385. The giant mountain sculpture was begun by Korczak Ziolkowski, at the request of Lakota chiefs, and represents North American Indians of all tribes. Upon completion, the in-the-round figure of Crazy Horse astride his horse will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long, the largest statue in the world. The nine-story-high face of Crazy Horse is complete. Visitors can see ongoing work on the memorial. Scale models of the statue, exhibits and a movie explain the work on the mountain. The visitor complex also includes the large Indian Museum of North America, which contains the Native American Educational and Cultural Center. Visitors can talk with native artists and craftspersons working on arts and crafts. Guests are treated, in season, to “Legends in Light”, a multimedia laser light show that illuminates the mountain. Bus rides to the foot of the mountain are available in season. Allow 1 hour, 30 minutes minimum.
My husband enjoyed this stop better than Mount Rushmore. We saw a video before we viewed the other areas. We were able to tour the home of the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. He was born in Boston 6 September 1908 and was orphaned at age one. He grew up in foster homes. He never took a formal lesson in art, sculpture, architecture or engineering.
He started Crazy Horse in 1947 and he was a strong believer in the free enterprise system. He felt Crazy Horse should be built by the interested public, not the taxpayer. Korczak Ziolkowski worked on Mount Rushmore, earlier. His name in on a plaque there. He died in 1982 and his wife Ruth continues with the project. What's so amazing about this monument is the sheer size of it - it's huge. The day before we got there they did some more dynamiting. Which then results in a huge project of removing the rocks.
There is a very nice museum and cultural center here with various designs of the anticipated completed Crazy Horse.
We got that tip before we visited Mount Rushmore. We got there about 11 AM which was a good time tio view it because the sun is shining on it. As the day goes on, the face profiles get shadows on them and they are not so clear. We read the information about the project and saw the video here. There is no charge so get into the park, but they charge $10 for parking which we had to pay - they would not let us use the Seniors' Golden Pass for parking.
Mount Rushmore was built as a tourist attraction - to bring people to South Dakota, and it was done during the depression as a way to put people to work. It was never completed.
Don't miss the Norbeck Highway which gives spectacular views of Mount Rushmore from a good distance, plus you will enjoy the picture frame views and one way road that gives a unique view of Mount Rushmore. The Norbeck Highway is where you will enjoy the "pig tail" bridges. Fun.
This was another great daytrip we enjoyed while staying in Custer. We drove to Keystone for lunch and then started our scenic drive where we encountered a huge herd of buffalo in the road - they would not move! The cars had to drive carefully around them. Three males were fighting. We thought maybe they were part of a herd we had seen yesterday when entering Custer State Park, but they were not. On this drive we took bridges that were called "pig tails" and we went through tunnels that made a picture frame of Mount Rushmore. How cool!
The tunnels were one lane and had to be entered very carefully. Really neat. We saw lots of dead trees here. The Forestry Department is cutting dead trees and debris in the winter and puttig it in the tee-pees to try to avert forest fires. After the Norbeck Road we turned on Needles Highway and drove to Sylvan Lake which is very pretty. We saw several deer on this route. The needles were really neat and interesting. We walked as far out at Sylvan Lake as we could. From Sylvan Lake it was 7 miles back to Custer.