When I think of the South Dakota Black Hills, my mind goes directly to the Mount Rushmore National Monument.  We recently visited, take a look at this picture.  It is much closer to the viewing area than I imagined.

Credit: Mike Sutton

Rushmore is only about 6 hours from Billings and has all of my favorite Presidents representing what they did for this great country.  What you may not be aware of is the ongoing project to memorialize another leader and warrior, Crazy Horse.

Credit: Mike Sutton

We had 3 days to spend starting in Deadwood, the Needles Highway, and Mount Rushmore.  When we drove by and saw the Crazy Horse Memorial, we had to go in.  I learned that the Crazy Horse Memorial is Privately Funded through donations.  Work started on it in 1948.  That is over 70 years of work and they are not even close to done.  Here are the dimensions according to the official website:

Crazy Horse's Face
87 feet, 6 inches (completed June 3, 1998)

Outstretched Arm
263 feet

Opening underarm
70 feet wide and 100 feet high

Finger
29 feet, 6 inches

It will be beautiful when it is complete.  The museum at the memorial site was a good time.  They had Native American artifacts, movies that teach the public about the monument and its importance, as well as live entertainment on a regular schedule.

The Needles Highway was a grand adventure as well.  Here is a picture of one of the many tunnels we went through on the loop.

Credit Adella Sutton

We had to be extremely careful not to take off a mirror or two as we navigated the windy road through Custer State Park.

Our trip from Billings, MT to the Black Hills of South Dakota was great.  A couple of words of advice:

1. Don't expect to eat at a restaurant in Hill City, SD after 8 pm in the offseason.  The food shuts off at 8 pm and they mean it.

2. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going.  The distances are short, but the roads can be slow.  Motor homes and switchbacks, you do the math.

3, Take a lot of pictures.  It is one of the most beautiful places that I have been.  The natural beauty is varied and grand.

If you live in Billings, MT and you have not traveled to Mount Rushmore and the South Dakota Black Hills, make it a plan.  It is too close not to check it off of your list of places to see.

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To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.