This summer, we made a 3000-mile road trip to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, and more. For those who don’t know, Mt. Rushmore monument in South Dakota has the faces of four most important US Presidents carved on a mountain top (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt). It was created in the 1930s. And Yellowstone is the first, and the largest, national park in the US. It was declared a national park in around 1910.
After a 800 mile drive over two days from Fairfield Iowa, we reached the Mt. Rushmore. We stayed at a nice hotel in Keystone, SD, just three miles from the monument. The monument, frankly, looked a little underwhelming from a distance. It is actually quite large at 80x human scale, but given the size of the mountains, they look small. From inside the park though, it looks imposing and grand. In the evening, there is a nice light-and-sound show that shows the history of the monument including a brief description of the accomplishments of each of the four presidents.
Thirty miles from Mt. Rushmore, is the Crazy Horse memorial. This is to celebrate a native Indian chief. This monument is much bigger, at 450x the human scale. It is so big that the entire bust of 4 presidents on Mt. Rushmore would fit into the head of Crazy Horse’s bust itself. It is privately funded and is thus slowly evolving based on funding. Both the Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments are a part of the Black Hills National Park.
After a 700 mile and 10 hour drive on I-90, we went to Yellowstone national park through Montana. On the way we saw a limping bear cross the highway. We stayed the night with friends at the Big Sky skiing resort in Montana. The next day we drove into the huge Yellowstone national park. The entire park is a crater formed 600 thousand years ago from a major volcanic eruption. It could erupt anytime. The place is full of geysers, small and big. Steam can be rising from many spots on the ground. The big Old Faithful geyser erupts every 90 minutes, thus its name. It rose to almost 100 feet for us, though can go up to 150 ft. The old faithful inn is also a delightful structure. This park has a huge 80×80 mile lake at its center. Yellowstone park also has a Grand Canyon of its own, like the one in Arizona, with two huge falls.
From there we drove south to Grand Teeton Park, and saw its beautiful twin peaks. Through the elite resort town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we drove into Utah, and stayed the night at Salt Lake City. There we visited the Salt Lake Park, just west of the city. The lake is really huge and actually very salty. From there we drove to Las Vegas, and then to Los Angeles to attend a destination wedding of a friend’s son.