Black Hills and Mount Rushmore

Mt Rushmore

The Black Hills are filled with beautiful rock outcroppings and forests. The road from Spearfish to Mount Rushmore weaves through Black Hills National Forest. We spent some time stopping along the way to look at potential camping spots for our next visit. Hill City was a cute little town. We stopped at the grocery store and got food for a picnic lunch.

Mount RushmoreMount Rushmore

Larry wasn't very excited about visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but Annette wanted to see how it had changed since visiting as a child and again in the early 1990s. She was shocked by the changes and Larry was fascinated by the quality of images.



The old buildings and parking lot have been replaced by a multiple floor pay parking facility and a large complex with stores, museums, and restaurants. A new walkway meanders through the woods at the base of the mountain to a building with information on the history of the memorial. As you walk along the pathway, you get to see closeup views of the sculptures.

WashingtonWashingtonMt. Rushmore


Mom and DadThe photo on the right shows Annette's parents Nancy and Bill at the memorial in the early 1960s. Annette was visiting her grandparents back in Iowa.

Mountain GoatsIt was interesting how much wildlife we saw in the part. The mountain goat on the right was grazing near the walkway.

As we left Mount Rushmore, we traveled on Iron Mountain Road through many small tunnels.

Scenic Drive

The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway was one of many beautiful drives on this trip. As we left Mount Rushmore, we stopped at pull outs to take photos. You can really see all the development from this distance.

Mt Rushmore

Mount Rushmore and Annette


We continued along this road through a series of pigtail bridges and tunnels through an area known as Iron Mountain Road. We'd seen a 5th wheel with a damaged roof at the KOA near Mount Rushmore and wondered whether it had unsuccessfully tried this road. It would be impossible for our motorhome.

Custer State Park

Custer State Park is known for its wildlife, particularly the buffalo.

We stopped by the Visitor Center to ask about the Civilian Conservation Corps work in the area in the 1930s and 1940s. Larry's Uncle Joe spent some time at a nearby CCC camp. We found some information but not the specific location. We'll have to come back when we have more time.

Although we didn't have much time, we decided to take the Wildlife Loop through the park and were happy to see many different types of animals along the way. First we spotted pronghorns.


Watch a short video of pronghorn. Also, check out the longer video.



A large herd of buffalo were walking along the side of the road. Watch a short video of a bison and her baby.



A number of people were stopped at a pull-off to enjoy a group of burros. Although they were wild, the burros were tame enough to eat bread out of the hands of visitors. Of course feeding wild animals is never a good idea, however the kids seemed to be having a great time walking among the burros.


muleWe became attached to a tiny burro with a weak leg. His mother had to help him up to walk. We wondered whether he would make it though the winter.

Needles Highway

We headed north out of the Custer State Park on Highway 87 known as Needles Highway. We enjoyed the tiny tunnels and Cathedral Spires.

tunnelneedle area

We stopped at the needle and watched a man climb to the top of some rocks.


Drive Home

Before heading home, we took a quick drive to a fire lookout. We could see the entire Blackhills area including Mt Rushmore in the distance.

We took the quick way home through Rapid City and the interstate. Next time we'll have to stay the entire summer!

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 6/06.