Mount Rushmore & Crazy Horse [South Dakota Recap]


So yeah. There's just no way around it. Mount Rushmore is freaking cool.

I was a tiny bit worried that we'd go there and look at it and then be all, "Huh. Well, there's that." BUT SERIOUSLY IT'S SO COOL. There's just something about being there, even if it does look just like the pictures you see in movies and on billboards.

First, though, we went to see Crazy Horse. We didn't know it at the time, but it ended up being a majorly good decision to see Crazy Horse first before we visited Mt. Rushmore. Because let's just be honest: compared to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse is kind of a letdown. It's cool and all that they're carving a guy on a horse into a mountain, but since it currently is just a face, it's kind of like, "Yeah, okay." 

See for yourself:

See what I mean? 

In 200 years it will look awesome, though. Something to look forward to if we haven't yet had to evacuate to Mars. Hashtag global warming.

There's also a large Native American museum on the property, which was interesting but probably would have been more informative if Oklahoma didn't already have tons of Native American stuff all over the place. I did love all the paintings, and learning about the history of the mountain carving gave me a greater appreciation for what the carver went through to get as far as he's gotten with it.

Long story short, if you're visiting South Dakota for the first time, definitely take a trip to Crazy Horse. It's kind of an icon. But at $11/person, there's really no need to go multiple times until they've made major progress to the carving.

Since Crazy Horse is still being worked on, they do public blastings, and you can take rock from the monument. Luckily, I was able to talk Jordan out of taking one. I mean, that's neat and all, but seriously. What are you supposed to do with a piece of rock? As if we have space for more random crap in our apartment. No.

After Crazy Horse and lunch (hot dogs at the Crazy Horse food court. Yum), we drove to Mount Rushmore. Both of us were giddy with glee at the thought of finally seeing it in person, which leads me to a funny Jordan story: 

When you're driving on the road to Mount Rushmore, you can't actually see the faces until you get around the front of the mountain. It looks mostly like this until they're almost right on top of you:

The faces aren't visible anywhere else along the road except for the profile of Washington's head, which you can see in the picture below.

So we've got the destination plugged into the GPS, and we're driving up the mountain, and then the GPS is like, "Turn left for final destination." And I'm like, "Jordan, turn left. There's the entrance." And Jordan looks to the left, sees the faces, and goes nuts and shouts, "There's the faces!" while continuing to drive right past the entrance and down the mountain away from Mount Rushmore. So we have to drive farther down until we find a spot to turn around and go back.

I like to tease him and say, "Hey, remember that time you drove right past Mount Rushmore?" I bet there are a ton of accidents on that road from people staring at the faces and crashing into each other.

You can't walk up to climb on the faces or anything Richie Rich style, but there is a half-mile "Presidential Trail" you can walk to get closer to the mountain. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. I mean, we really couldn't have asked for more perfect outside weather. And, anything after Labor Day is considered the "off season," so there weren't very many people. Two points for not being a teacher! We may not get summers off, but we can go on vacation during the off season. Whatup.

We went back that night to see the lighting ceremony, which happens every night at 8:00. I told Jordan it reminded me of when I was in Greece and saw the Parthenon lit up at night. He told me to stop bragging.

So that was Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore! I hope you enjoyed the pictures. It's so difficult to only choose a few to share from the hundreds I took. And again, there is just something about seeing it in person that you can't get from a picture.

Next up on our South Dakota adventure: Dinner in Hill City at the Alpine Inn, building a fire in our fire pit with wet wood and nothing but matches, Bear Country USA (aka where we see tons of black bears), a tour of downtown Rapid City.

Have you been to Mount Rushmore? 
Do you think that's somewhere you'd like to go?
Anyone else seen a famous building or monument lit up at night?
Kate said...

Oh man! We didn't get to see the lighting ceremony. That's super cool.
Mount Rushmore really was better than I expected too. Also, while we were there, we saw mountain goats hanging out on the rocks below. There's something so fascinating to me about an animal that just walks on the side of a mountain, so we hung out and watched them for a while. So much fun.

Alllllso, I will never ever get to take an off season vacation, which makes me bitter. Thank you for reminding me.

Robyn B said...

so awesome! Thomas & i thought about driving to Mt Rushmore when we went to Yellowstone on our honeymoon - on a map it looked like it wasn't too far away. turns out it was a 9 hour drive both ways.... so we didn't make it! :)

Ali said...

Great pictures! We want to do a road trip from MN to Washington state, with Mt. Rushmore being a stop along the way. I love traveling in early Spring or Fall. The colors are always nice, the weather is better (not too hot or too cold), and it's off season pretty much everywhere. Win win win!

Unknown said...

It looks amazing from up close! It makes me think of the Argonath in The Lord of the Rings. :)

Jennifer Prod said...

oy vey, madam photographer- that last black & white photograph of the mount is a stunner. mt rushmore is about 8 hours from mpls, and jon and i keep meaning to take a weekend and just gooooo. why hasn't it happened yet? i'm not sure - i'm tempted to email him this post with a reminder that we need to make it happen. always crushing on your adventures.

Sarah said...

Photos are beautiful!!

I used to nanny for a girl that named her cat Crazy Horse...I don't think this is where she got it, ha

Kayla MKOY said...

That is SO neat! I've always wanted to see it, and I'm glad to hear it wasn't all like "oh, okay, cool now we've seen it -- now what??" ;) hiking sounds like a blast. You guys got some great weather!!

Miriam said...

So cool! I have not been to Mount Rushmore yet, but it's on my list for sure. Will it really take another 200 years to finish Crazy Horse? That it crazy! I thought nowadays they can do everything lightening fast - I'm baffled.

Bethany Carson said...

Neat photos at Mt. Rushmore! Looks like a very fun place to visit! I've never been there, but would like to go someday.

Your comment about the Crazy Horse sculpture looking neat 200 years from now if we haven't yet evacuated to Mars put a smile on my face!

Jamie said...

we did the Rushmore/Crazy Horse stop when I was 16, and I was really excited to see the progress on Crazy Horse these past 13 [eek!] years. I hate to say that it looks like they haven't made any progress at all... your 200 years remark is, sadly, most likely accurate.

Alyson said...

I have never been before and to be honest, never really wanted to. But now I do! Great photos!

Anonymous said...

Okay, that settles it. I need to see Mount Rushmore. It is too cool that you can really only see the faces from the front. It's like a little hidden gem in the mountain.


Sarah @ Sometimes Photojenik said...

I've never been there but have always wanted to go! Great pictures!

Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch said...

This is fun! I'm glad you went.

I didn't even know about crazy horse and I had no idea they still carved faces today. That's funny about giving away free rocks. Dave would have wanted a rock. Never mind! I just interviewed him and he said he would not take a rock. However, he did collect salt crystals from the salt plains so that is why I guessed he would take a rock. Have you been to the salt plains? If not, don't do it! There are literally thousands of spiders and then you have to go dig for crystals.

The Lady Okie said...

Glad you liked the pictures, Bethany! Hopefully we won't have to go to Mars any time soon :)

Allie @ Everyday Adventures said...

I've never been to Mount Rushmore, but would love to see it someday! And it made me chuckle about not wanting Jordan to take a rock from Crazy Horse — I'm right there with you, where do we put random pieces of things we find on trips and just have to have?!

Amy said...

so. beautiful!
this is on my bucket list of places i want to go!

Victoria said...

Both times we did the Crazy Horse "there it is over there" drive by....Maybe we should have checked out the museum and gotten a little closer!!!

I LOVE the flags picture at Mount Rushmore. Everyone takes them, but I never tire of them. And since Washington is one of my favorite Georges from history, I had to stop to take a picture of his profile as well.

Your recaps are stirring up so many of my favorite memories! Thank you. :)

Kerry @ Till Then Smile Often said...

Holy Moly that is a long time to see a man on a horse! Hehe! I could totally understand driving by, but glad you didn't have to drive too far to turn around. You got some great shots.

Rachel said...

I saw Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse about 11 years ago...and I don't think they've done much, if anything, to Crazy Horse in the last 11 years. Interesting. I have a picture of me posing very seductively in front of Mt. Rushmore when I was 12 and it's hilarious. I'm not sure what was up with the seductiveness...