Rapid City to Bozeman

Soon I will get around to reviewing the books that I read in September, but I don’t have the time to do that right now. Here, then, is another post about the road trip I took with my brother in August.

The first thing we did when we woke up in Rapid City was go to Mt. Rushmore.

Scratch that.

The first thing we did when we woke up in Rapid City was eat a continental breakfast at the hotel. Then we plugged Mt. Rushmore into the GPS and it led us southwest of town, past dozens of tourist traps, to Mt. Rushmore — the biggest tourist trap of them all. (I don’t mean to seem disrespectful, but after all, it was conceived to increase tourism in South Dakota. If that isn’t the definition of a tourist trap, what is?) We got there early, just after 8. It turns out this was a good call, since by the time we left, about an hour later, the place was packed.

As you can see, it was a beautiful clear day.

Here is what Gutzon Borglum wanted the mountain to look like originally:

There was a very patriotic soda machine outside the men’s restroom:

When we were done looking around, we went back to the parking lot. We weren’t playing the license plate game on this trip, but we probably could have seen just about all the states in the parking lot. We decided not to go to the Crazy Horse monument for two reasons: 1) it is more expensive, and 2) it isn’t finished. If it were just one or the other, we might have gone. But the double whammy of expensive incompleteness kept us away.

So we drove back through town on the way to the highway. Rapid City does something that I, in my historically nerdy way, think is really cool. They have (almost) life-sized statues of U.S. presidents on the street corners downtown. We saw many of them driving by, but we just had to stop and take pictures of a couple. Here is Teddy in his Rough Riders uniform:

Across the street, Franklin Pierce was hanging out (across the street you can see my car parked in front of Teddy’s Bar):

After that stop, we left Rapid City and headed through the northeast corner of Wyoming and into Montana. In Montana, we stopped at the Little Bighorn National Battlefield. Here is where Custer’s second in command is buried:

The black tombstone in this picture marks where Custer fell and was originally buried:

Here is the memorial to the U.S. soldiers. Most of them are buried under this memorial, but the bodies of the officers were taken elsewhere. Custer, for example, is buried at West Point.

Here is part of the native memorial, which is not far away from the other one:

And finally, here is a view from Last Stand Hill toward the visitors’ center:

After stopping at the battlefield, we drove through Billings to Bozeman, where we spent the night.


3 thoughts on “Rapid City to Bozeman

  1. Cool Presidential leg of the journey! I visited Mt. Rushmore as a child and was pretty awed by it, and I find myself feeling the same way now, looking at your pictures. I am particularly intrigued by the “early vision” of what it was meant to look like. I think I’ll read up more on it when I have time. And of course, I am thinking of the climax of the great Hitchcock film, North by Northwest.

  2. My parents are buried at Fort Custer in Michigan, so I thought Custer was there, too. He was in a Michigan (Union) regiment in the Late Unpleasantness, wasn’t he? I always thought he was awfully dumb at Little Big Horn when I was growing up. Then I found out he was a terrible show off as a Union soldier. How come he rates being buried at West Point? To serve as a bad example?

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