Monday, October 18, 2010

Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse

Rapid City, South Dakota, has been a really good experience so far. Never would I have ever thought that the area near Mt. Rushmore would be so family friendly. Just about every hotel has an indoor pool and there are attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Our hotel (the AmericInn, Rapid City) has a indoor pool, hot tub and water slide. We aren’t talking some little kiddy slide with a small stair case that goes into the pool. I’m talking about a tube slide that twists down all the way from the second story... Water park style! Joshua was so excited during the whole drive until we got here. He climbed up the staircase with Mike and peered down the dark entry. He could tell that the slide would be pitch black going down. He sat at the top shaking and said that he was a little scared. Mike went first and hollered all the way down then told Joshua to go. He came down, did a little smile and said that he liked it. Then promptly told us he didn’t want to go again. Mike is really the king when it comes to encouragement and before long, Joshua couldn’t stop sliding down and yelling, “THIS….IS…..SO…..AWESOME!!!”

After a fun night at the pool and an awesome pizza buffet at a nearby restaurant, waking up on a brisk Sunday morning wasn't very easy. But the plans were worth it. After hitting the complimentary breakfast buffet our hotel offered, we packed up our minivan and headed towards Mt. Rushmore. About 45 minutes southwest of Rapid City, through Black Hills National Forest, we arrived at the famous monument. In a word - Spectacular! We arrived at Mt. Rushmore early enough in the morning and late enough in the season that we didn't have to compete with other tourists for parking or the view of the famed sculptured stone mountain. We spent about an hour on the grounds, including letting Sam walk his way through pretty much the entire visitors area. For the record, in the picture below of Josh, he's not actually playing his Nintendo DS at the monument, he's setting it to camera mode to take a photo.

Afterward, we headed deeper into the Black Hills to visit the equally impressive Crazy Horse Monument, which has yet to be completely sculpted, but still manages to impress observers with its significance. I guess the story goes, that in the late 1930's, Chief Henry Standing Bear sought a sculptor to create a memorial similar to the one constructed at Mt. Rushmore. In a letter to the eventual sculptor (named Korczak Ziolkowski), Chief Henry Standing Bear stated in part "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too." Ziolkowski died in 1982, before completing the project, but his wife and 10 children continue to push for the completion of the monument. When completed, the monument will be the world's largest sculpture. It is well worth the drive, if you are ever visiting Mt. Rushmore.

During our trip, we’ve been well stocked with workbooks and other road trip activities. Joshua has been working on his school workbooks, math flashcards, and writing in his journal. More often then not though, Joshua has been playing with his DS. We also have a DVD player and loads of kid music. I think back to the times that our parents had to go on road trips with us and am really thankful that we have all this technology. Of course some folks question the quality of sticking children in front of a box but I have to say that during a 6 hour drive it helps our sanity so much!


  1. Hope you stop at Wall Drug on the way out, with all the road signs you just have to, it's part of the American Road Trip. Take as much time as you can and enjoy the country.

  2. Thanks for sharing about your trip to South Dakota, glad to hear that you enjoyed your time.

    Katlyn Richter
    South Dakota Office of Tourism