Black Hills, Deadwood, and Devils Tower

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
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Trip End Jun 16, 2007


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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Monday, May 21, 2007

Saturday morning I headed to Mt. Rushmore. Morning is the best time, as the mountain faces east and you get great morning light on the monument. Also, the crowds haven't started to get thick yet. I thought the monument would be kitsch and tacky, but it was very impressive and amazing. The visitor center has a good film and exhibit on the building of the monument. The only bummer is you have to pay $8 for parking. The National Park System didn't have the money to build the parking facilities, so they let a concession do it and collect the revenue. Hint - don't park on top, park on a lower level where the car is out of the sun!

After Mt. Rushmore I started to cruise around the Black Hills and wound up at Custer State Park, which was having their FREE opening weekend celebration. This park is amazing. It encompasses Needles Highway, Wildlife Loop with free roaming buffalo, Sylvan Lake, etc.

I stayed in Sturgis Saturday night and what a pit. I do not recommend it - there is nothing there. Now I know why the Motorcycle Rally is there - there is nothing there to wreck and what is there, already looks like a dump. Try to make reservations in advance in Deadwood; it's more historic and touristy, but you can walk to things and there are a lot of bars, casinos, and restaurants. It's still the off-season so not everything is up and running, but should be after Memorial Day.

Deadwood pissed me off in the end. I think it's taking things a bit far when you charge to enter a cemetery. Making money off dead people is really gauche.

Lead, which is the next town up, was interesting. Lead is pronounced like to verb (Leed), not the noun. The Homestake Gold mine was in operation up until about 10 years ago (125 years total). I'm not sure what the people here do now but it seems like it would have been a nice place to raise a family back in the day. The company apparently took good care of its workers and the town. There were some nice Victorian homes in need of repair as well. Lots in need of repair actually.

Onto Devil's Tower - it's a bit out of the way but worth it. There is also a trail around the base (1.3 miles). It's not tough and worth it. I can't believe the people who drive up to it, look at it, and then get back in their cars.

From there I drove to Buffalo, Wyoming in hopes I could find a room. I wasn't able to find anything reasonable online for Buffalo or Sheridan so I figured I'd wing it. I first tried an inn with a vacancy sign but they wouldn't take $50, they wanted $68 (not in my budget). So I drove down the road and tried another place who said, "$50 - that's our rate" so there I stayed. $50 is better than nothing - obviously the first place didn't want the business or doesn't know how to run a business.
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