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Mt. Rushmore is great – but don’t miss Crazy Horse!

Mt. Rushmore is great – but don’t miss Crazy Horse!

By Françoise Rhodes, Host of Traveling With Françoise Radio & Television

I recently had the fun experience of escorting a group of 42 travelers with ACT Tours to Mt. Rushmore. As the escort it was my job to make sure things ran smoothly.  Except for rain, sleet, snow and fog we had an exciting trip and I finally got to see Mt. Rushmore and some of South Dakota.

Besides my job, my primary focus was seeing Mt. Rushmore, I’ve been fascinated by this granite hillside and its four presidents my entire life.  On television the National Memorial looks larger than life, and it is.  However the grand scale doesn’t really hit you until you see it in all of its glory.  I personally enjoyed the Ave of Flags that frames the mountain when you arrive; those visitors that were there when it was less of a tourist attraction don’t appreciate it.  To really understand what you are looking at, learn a little before you go.  One fact that stands out in my mind more than anything is that because the four Presidents on Mount Rushmore – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are made of granite, they can withstand time and will still be there 7 million years from now.  WOW!

While in South Dakota we also traveled through Sturgis, a town that comes alive for two weeks each year for the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  However Sturgis has its own history.

An afternoon was spent at the Crazy Horse Memorial mountain monument under construction on privately held land in the Black Hills, in Custer County, South Dakota. Construction began in 1948, when and if finished, it will depict the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing into the distance.  The memorial is quite a sight to behold and must when visiting South Dakota.  The Welcome Center is fascinating so give yourself plenty of time to look at everything and watch the movie about the project.

We also drove through Custer State Park and wildlife reserve in the Black Hills. The park is South Dakota’s largest and first state park, named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and encompasses over 71,000 acres.  Our bus tour took us on the 17 mile wildlife loop where we saw buffalo (they don’t call them bison in South Dakota) and all sorts of beautiful scenery and wildlife.

Next stop was Deadwood City, yes the same old historic gold mining town you see on the HBO Series.  Main street is lined with casinos and historic brothels that are now hotels and other businesses.  While in Deadwood take time to visit the city’s museum, so much history in this old gold mining town.  There is a trolley that will take you around town, use it so you can see as much as possible.  Under the brick paved streets are tunnels that connect all of the hotels.  In the 1800’s during the gold strike era the Chinese laundry workers used these tunnels to get to the hotels instead of being on the streets with all of the townspeople.  And if you are looking for the local’s secret for lunch or dinner, above Saloon #10 there is the Deadwood Social Club, excellent.

Even with the crazy weather I enjoyed everything about my trip to South Dakota. I would happily go back to spend more time sightseeing the beautiful countryside and exploring more of Deadwood City.

 Below is a link to my television show and Mt. Rushmore trip…..enjoy!

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