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Daniel Tours America
Mt Rushmore, SD
20th Jun 2008
Mount Rushmore; Badlands of South Dakota

Today I visited Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park.

As everyone knows, this is a carving of three of America's best and most important presidents, plus Teddy Roosevelt.    It would be easy to confirm my suspicions that this is a decadent example of American arrogance*, but that would detract from its importance as the second most American and instantly identifiable attraction, behind the Statue of Liberty.

* Even the introductory video described it as being created during the US's cockiest phase.


The pictures that we see of this monument do not represent it accurately.  They give the impression that the faces are as tall as a mountain, when in fact they are really quite small.  They're 60' tall and sit on the top quarter or so of the cliff face, and as such from a distance look rather feeble.  Only up close do they show their grandeur.


Just as fun were the snow-white gruff billy goats who stroll over the park, and the fat marmot-like rodents that make the tourists squeal.


After this I went to les mauvais terres, the Bad Lands. This is an area of South Dakota that spans the Buffalo Gap National Grassland**, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and Badlands National Park.   The Badlands are rocky gullies and fins, created partly through volcanic ash deposits (perhaps from Yellowstone). 

The Badlands are the home of palaeontology, as this is where the first major fossils were found in the middle of the 19th C.

I spent quite some time talking with the Lakota people who work in the visitor centre.  One grand gentleman had two waist-length braids of hair and sat on a buffalo hide as we spoke.  I learned some fascinating things, which I have detailed in a video.

As I passed from the reservation to the park I gave a ride to two Lakota hitch-hikers, one of whom was called Malcolm Bigfoot.  They, sadly, were the Native American version of Coconuts.  It was fun to chat with them, and as a thank-you they left me a sage bush in the car, which smells lovely.


 ** I got the name wrong in my video.  Oops.

Next: Drive to Minnesota through Iowa; night out in Minneapolis
Previous: Grand Teton NP; Devils Tower; the drive through Wyoming

Diary Photos

Mt Rushmore, SD

Four Great Men and Roosevelt, SD

Mountain goat, Mt Rushmore, SD

Mt Rushmore, SD

Oma`s Cafe, SD

Jackelope, SD

Buffalo Gap National Grassland, SD

Badlands National Park, SD

Lakota gentlemen

Badlands National Park, SD

Badlands National Park, SD

Goat, Badlands National Park, SD

Badlands National Park, SD

Badlands National Park, SD

Fauna, Badlands National Park, SD

Badlands National Park, SD

Titanothere fossil, Badlands National Park, SD

Sage, from Badlands National Park, SD

Diary Movies

The Badlands

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