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Hail to the Chiefs

On June 3rd we arrived at Ellsworth Air Force Base, SD near Rapid City to do some sightseeing. Saturday, June 4 we headed first to Mount Rushmore about thirty minutes drive from the base. After parking our truck we walked to the monument through the Avenue of States to a large viewing area, visitor center and amphitheater. The monument is an impressive site and the story of its creation by sculptor John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum is fascinating. Karen and I walked along the Presidential Trail to get a view of the monument from below.

From Rushmore we drove to the Crazy Horse Memorial. The Mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians. Crazy Horse Memorial is located in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills. This project was started as a vision of native people and is entirely funded with private money. The elevation on the Mountain is 6,532 feet above sea level and ranks 27th highest mountain in South Dakota. It is made of pegmatite granite and was chosen by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski & Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear for the Crazy Horse Memorial. The monument to date is still under construction. Many of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Korczak Ziolkowski are involved continuing the progress on the world’s largest sculptural undertaking by carving a Memorial of Lakota leader Crazy Horse. The site is more than a monument. It includes a museum of Native American artifacts, traditions and art. Providing educational and cultural programming to encourage harmony and reconciliation among all people and nations.

We finished the sightseeing adventure with a drive through the Custer State Park. This South Dakota State Park and wildlife reserve in the Black Hills is South Dakota's largest and first state park, named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The park covers an area of over 71,000 acres (287 km2) of varied terrain including rolling prairie grasslands and rugged mountains. The park is home to a herd of 1,500 bison, Elk, coyotes, mule deer, white tailed deer, mountain goats, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, river otters, pronghorn, cougars, and feral burros also inhabit the park. The park is known for its scenery, its scenic drives (Needles Highway and the wildlife loop), with views of the bison herd and prairie dog towns.

There is a lot to see and do here and we just scratch the surface. I see a longer stay on our next trip to the area. A definite five star destination for campers and wildlife photographers.


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