Friday, October 30, 2015

Mount Rushmore - Part 1

The kids recently had a 5 day weekend for fall break. Because these breaks only run through middle school, we wanted to take advantage of the time off.
Mount Rushmore has been on our wish list since we moved to Denver. It's only about a 6 hour drive.

We had grand plans to spend two and a half days exploring South Dakota. 

Then, "the most important soccer game of our season" appeared on the calendar and our trip got cut very short.

So, what can you do near Mount Rushmore in 24 hours? 

As we drove to town, we visited Custer State Park. We really enjoyed driving the Wildlife Loop and would do it again on another visit.

We thought this was a sheep, but were disappointed to discover it was only a mule deer. 

Needles Highway was closed in the park for road repairs. Next visit, that portion of the park (which include Sylvan Lake) will be a priority.

A few other spots we would visit if the time/budget allowed include the Mammoth Hot Springs Site, Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary and the Purple Pie Place. No one was in the mood for pie when we passed the restaurant. 

We spent about an hour in the park and then took Iron Mountain Road toward Mount Rushmore. Loved seeing the mountain through the tunnel.

We enjoyed seeing Mt. Rushmore lighted at night. 

Our fourth graders have free National Parks passes this year.  But, a National Parks Pass doesn't work at Mount Rushmore.  They don't charge admission - just a parking fee. But, your parking pass is good for a week. The trickiest part about visiting at night is avoiding the wild animals on the road.  We passed so many deer & other critters on our drive to the hotel.

We returned bright & early to see the park in daylight. The kids had a lot of fun exploring the park, using binoculars and listening to the Ranger presentations. 

There is a short path that takes you close to the base of the mountain. We spent about an hour and a half at the park. As we were leaving at 10:30, it was starting to get very busy (even in October).

We were very excited to see these two sheep wandering around as we left the park. As you leave Mount Rushmore, you pass through a little town with a number of restaurants and tourist attractions. We ate in the town on Thursday night, but drove through on Saturday to head to our next destination. 

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