George and Crazy Horse...a Steal!

Keystone Travel Blog

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Snow! Won't be seeing much of that, so I had to take pictures of it...
After Wall Drug, we wanted to hit Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse National Monuments.  We didn't have to travel too far, so we made it to Mt. Rushmore before noon.  We thought we'd just see it, and drive through.....that's not exactly what happened.

Driving through the forests, I couldn't help but notice quite a few dead trees throughout the area.  Laying among the hills like toothpicks, each tangling of lumber seemed to tell a different story.  It seemed random, misplaced and odd looking.  We later found out it was because of the notorious bark beetle, but seeing this unsettling sight while driving through a national park put a damper on our day a bit.  Rocking out to "The Final Countdown" by Europe on the iPod (we were just going down the alphabet, haha), we finally reached the entrance to the Mt.
Rushmore Visitor Center.  If you've ever been to the place, you might've felt the same sense of confusion I had when we drove up.  You had to pay to see Mt. Rushmore!  Now, I figured that'd be the case, but not under the present circumstances.  Those circumstances involved driving around the winding roads, rolling closer to the center.  But from about 500 yards outside the pay place, you could get a spectacular shot of our rocky presidents!  This baffled me!  I thought we'd get a better view from closer up, so we just drove up to the entrance...then realized it cost $15 to go in and get a picture from about 100 yards closer (and maybe at a better angle).  No thanks.  Literally....we said no thanks, and U-turned it back down the mountain to the free spot we discovered earlier.
Hahahahah....no parking, stopping, standing...anytime. We did 2 of the 3.
  I took as many pictures as I could as we did loop after loop trying to navigate around the entrance/roads.  I got a few good ones, as did the rest of us, and felt fully satisfied.  And they didn't get my money!

I know I know...."you could've given your money to the national park!  That's a good cause!"  You're correct....it's a great one.  That's why each of us gave about $50 to the parks in our week of travels.  $15 one way or the other, no disrespect to the park.  But why pay for that when you've got just as good or better view from OUTSIDE the visitor's center? 

On our way down the mountainside, we kept seeing President Washington's profile....we thought nothing of it at first...then Phil had the brilliant idea to stop and take funny pictures with it.
Mt. Rushmore. Worth more than you see
  In the end, George wore sunglasses, he got his nose picked, and his nose was thoroughly licked.  And other stuff...but that's not G-rated.  Just kidding...all we did was what I posted, haha.

When we arrived at the entrance (our exit) to the park, we noticed some amazing rocks on the hillside and decided it was time for a climb.  You know...just an afternoon climb!  Everybody does it, right?  Armed with my camera and spider grip (haha, I wish), I ambled up the rocks with the roommates.  We played around on the rocks for a good hour or so....with the more experienced climbers (Phil and Colin) taking on the more sheer faces...while Eli and myself stayed low to the ground.  We found some caves, a few crevasses, and even a bear or two (kidding about the bear).
Party like a rockstar
  In one fat-man's-squeeze crevass, we discovered calf-high snow leftover from a recent storm.  We thought this was odd, considering we had just come from some arid badlands.  Snow, badlands, grasslands, farmlands....so far so good on the diversity of the terrain.  Can it get more so?  Haha........

When we had enough, we climbed back into the car (much unlike how we climbed up the rocks) with only a cut here or there.  We felt like we got the best of the rocks, and were feeling good as we headed to our next national monument.  Crazy Horse was about a 45-minuted drive away, and along the way we passed terrain not unike what I feel safe to say was terrain much like where I grew up.  Rolling hills, forests, and all the concrete you could ever need to get from A to B.
Taking the low, safer route
  Not overdone, not intrusive, just right.  This minimalistic approach made for some slow going, but the scenery was nice. 

Would you believe it.  We got to Crazy Horse and faced the same no-brainer dilemma that we faced on Rushmore!  Again, it cost to get in to see the monument!  $20 this time.  Our reply to the guard when we realized the monument was unfinished and expensive: "Um...we'll come back when it's finished.  Can we just turn around?"  Like she'd heard it a million times, she said that wasn't a problem and for us to go down about a 6-iron's distance away and make the U-turn.  I thought this was interesting.  A u-turn just for the cheap/thrifty visitor?  Very intersting.  See Crazy Horse was started in 1948.
Ridiculous
  Due to funding issues and the shear size of the project, it's not completed.  But it still looks cool as hell to see the chief on his horse (I think...hard to tell right now) pointing in the distance.  From the guard shack, the visitor's center was about a driver and 3-wood away.  Hmmmmm....

Colin, the driver, and I were thinking the same thing.  I, being in the back right-hand side of the car, had my camera ready as we went down the hill to the u-turn.  With my window rolled down and Colin easing on the break, I got 2 great pictures of the monument as we inched around the turn.  If anyone was paying attention, they'd have thought we were ridiculous.  Not obvious or ANYTHING.  Hahahahahaha....but we got a great picture.
Crazy Horse, driving down to the u-turn
  All for what? NOTHING.  It was great.  Again...didn't pay to get in to see the monument...and we SAW the monument.  When most people would've paid the $35 to see both from a little bit closer and more official view, we saw them for free and got better pictures.  Better pictures not because of the way they came out, the way the colors worked, contrast, brightness....not anything like that.  Our pictures are better because of our story.

These pictures do tell a story.  A story about 4 famous presidents and 4 creative college kids not willing to spend their rice money on a closer view of Teddy's nose.  Legitimate, right?  We captured Crazy Horse's unfinished beauty, and our unfinished trip around the u-turn to the exit.
Crazy Horse from the u-turn. Worth so much more than you see
  The significance for us lies beyond what's seen in the picture.  To really see how great our pictures are, you had to be in the car with us.

Because we were.  We never got out.  Sightseeing at its finest.  Next stop?  Devil's Tower!  Same results perhaps?  Surely not...
rotorhead85 says:
Awesome blog!
Posted on: Jun 16, 2008
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Snow!  Wont be seeing much of tha…
Snow! Won't be seeing much of th…
Hahahahah....no parking, stopping,…
Hahahahah....no parking, stopping…
Mt. Rushmore.  Worth more than you…
Mt. Rushmore. Worth more than yo…
Party like a rockstar
Party like a rockstar
Taking the low, safer route
Taking the low, safer route
Ridiculous
Ridiculous
Crazy Horse, driving down to the u…
Crazy Horse, driving down to the …
Crazy Horse from the u-turn.  Wort…
Crazy Horse from the u-turn. Wor…
Mt. Rushmore from a different, FRE…
Mt. Rushmore from a different, FR…
5th president?  No way.
5th president? No way.
Profile of George in the distance
Profile of George in the distance
He had a boogey
He had a boogey
And something on his nose?
And something on his nose?
Cool gap in the rocks we discovered
Cool gap in the rocks we discovered
Taking a breather
Taking a breather
Hanging on for dear life!
Hanging on for dear life!
Keystone
photo by: vickie-lou