Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mt. Rushmore Lives Up to its Name -- Wed., Aug. 22

We were in a rush to hit the road this morning because we had a lot on our agenda: Mt. Rushmore (tour visitor center, walk 3/4 mile Presidential Trail, watch video on the creation of Mt. Rushmore's sculptures), drive to Spearfish Canyon to see three waterfalls, visit the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery and shop at Walmart in Spearfish, S.D.

We started our day driving on Iron Mountain Road (Hwy 16A) from Spokane Creek Campground to the road to Mt. Rushmore. The roads in the Mt. Rushmore/Custer State Park area were created to showcase the beauty of the scenery, not to speed through on your way to your next destination. Unfortunately we did "rush more" to get to everything today!
Narrow tunnels.
The infamous Pigtail Bridges.
The bridges were designed for the road to gain elevation in the smallest amount of space. Designed like a curly pigtail, the road curls back around on itself.

The Visitor Center at Mr. Rushmore opened at 8:00 a.m. We were there. Between watching the video and learning the history of the work that went into the presidential faces, going out and hiking the Presidential Trail was more meaningful.

The whole Mt. Rushmore visitor area is well thought out. There is a lot of parking ($11 per car), an Avenue of Flags (with a flag flying from each state), a huge amphitheater for the night show, a replica of the sculptor’s studio, a historic overlook and the Presidential Trail.

The trail has lots of steps, but that didn’t bother us. There were many places to view Mt. Rushmore along the trail. The day was warm and a little humid. We chose to go counter-clockwise and go up the 250 steps (easier on the knees). It was a good work out.

Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln
The outdoors rocks!

We came down this set of steps.
This is in addition to the steps we just came down.
Going up?
And up? Another part of the 250 steps up.
Interesting geology.
Trees growing from rocks.
Here's the viewing area most people visit.
Photo from Grand View Terrace.
Abraham Lincoln
Guzmon Borglum, sculptor, had a mountain-sized do-over or two. You see, Thomas Jefferson's face originally was to the left of George Washington. Because of a large crack in the granite, Jefferson's original portrait in the rock had to be blown off the mountain and re-sculpted elsewhere. Jefferson's face in the new location would have had a big crack through his nose. Borglum decided to move Jefferson's head slightly to the left and that placed the crack through his cheek and one eye.

For Roosevelt, the workers ended up placing his head back 75' feet farther than originally planned as they could not find solid granite to sculpt until they had blown away that much rock.

From Mt. Rushmore, we headed north up to Spearfish Canyon in The Black Hills. What a lovely drive through forest, rocks, valleys, canyons and the historic towns of Deadwood and Lead (pronounced "leed). 

World's largest glider chair. Who knew?
Museum in Deadwood, SD
Name dropping.

Some history happened here.
Cool door handles.
Where we had lunch.
Deadwood, SD
Lead, SD
Double click to read.
The Open Cut in Lead, South Dakota
Road construction stopped us as we were getting close to Spearfish Canyon. The flagger told us we'd have to wait 15 minutes. Ended up we only waited about seven minutes. Couldn't have asked for a prettier place to be stuck.

In Spearfish Canyon, our first stop was Roughlock Falls. We drove to the top of the falls and hiked a one-mile round-trip trail with lookouts at different areas along the route.

Roughlock Falls
Roughlock Falls
Downriver from Roughlock Falls.
Roughlock Falls trail.
Next we tried to find Spearfish Falls. We started north on the Spearfish Canyon Road upon leaving Roughlock Falls but didn't see any signs for the falls. According to the map, it should have been across the road from the Roughlock Falls Road. As we drove down the road, I noticed a sign for a trail in the back of a restaurant across the street. We did a U-turn when it was safe and headed back to the restaurant parking lot. A quick walk to the sign showed us we were in the right place. We took off on the 1-1/2 mile round-trip trail and found the falls at the bottom of a small canyon.

Sign at back of restaurant property.

Spearfish Falls.
Bob enjoying the cool mist from the falls.
Bridal Veil Falls was our third stop on the Spearfish Canyon Drive. You could view this waterfall from the road. It was barely worth it, not much flow to the falls at this time of year.
Bridal Veil Falls
After our waterfall stops, our next destination was D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery in Spearfish. We walked around the fish hatchery but didn't stay very long. It's in a pretty park and the walk was a good leg stretcher.

Next we went to the Walmart in Spearfish, SD to stock up on fresh veggies (corn on the cob, broccoli, salad fixings, mushrooms, fruit). When we had what we needed to get us through another week, we took the freeway to Rapid City and US 16 south to Keystone. We "rushed more" and made it home just before dark.

A good, busy day.

Travel Bug out.


  1. Mount Rushmore is on my bucket list. Thanks for the tour!

    1. You're welcome. We highly recommend it, but be sure to allow PLENTY of time. As it was, we had to add one night to our campground stay. Luckily, they were not busy.

      We will definitely be coming back to this area. There are trails calling our names that we did not have time for. Plus, the Alpine Slide would be fun, and there are many caves to tour. Three days was minimum for the basics. (Of course, most people would camp at Black Hills and do those attractions separately, but not us, oh, no, we DROVE all the way there and all the way back. Same for Spearfish Canyon.)

  2. You guys have had a busy summer vacation from home in San Antonio. Are you coming back to San Antonio for a vacation from the vacation?

    1. Yes.

      We are back in San Antonio relaxing today. We will be camping in one spot from now until our next adventure which will be from October through December. Then we will return to San Antonio to "vacation from our vacation" again. LOL.



Please let me know what you think, your experiences, and constructive criticism to make this blog stronger.