Black Hills and Mount Rushmore Photo Gallery

 
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Each year, three million visitors flock to South Dakota's iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Setting out to build a symbol of freedom, artist Gutzon Borglum and an estimated 400 workers began sculpting the monument in 1927. Fourteen years and $1 million later, the project was completed. The famous presidential faces depicted are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.  
Credit: South Dakota Tourism 
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Mount Rushmore was not built without controversy, given that the land on which it was etched was forcibly seized from the area's Lakota tribe following the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. In response, and to honor the culture and heritage of North American Indians, construction on the 563-foot Crazy Horse Memorial got underway in 1948. The structure is still being chiseled away at today.  
Credit: jamiedfw/Flickr 
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The 68-mile Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway snakes past the best of the Black Hills, including Mount Rushmore, Harney Peak, Sylvan Lake, and the Cathedral Spires (pictured). Part of this circuit, the 14-mile Needles Highway was considered an impossible feat of engineering when it was constructed in 1919. One of its most famous features is the Needle's Eye, a rock tunnel with a three-foot-wide slit that stretches some 40 feet in the air.  
Credit: Chad Coppess/South Dakota Tourism 
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Summer is the best season to visit South Dakota's Black Hills region, and Custer State Park's Sylvan Lake is the epicenter of much of the outdoor action. Trailheads for two major hikes depart from the lake. The three-mile Sunday Gulch trail takes an easy mile and a half descent from the start then loops back around. The Sylvan Lake trail leads to the summit of Harney Peak, at 7,242 feet, the highest point between the Rockies and the Pyrenees.  
Credit: Stefano Salvetti/Photodisc/Getty 
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The critter residents of the Black Hills don't disappoint their Homo sapiens guests. Everything from prairie dogs and badgers to brown bears, elk, and mountain goats occupy the region's diverse swatch of prairielands, hardwood forests, and rugged granite peaks.  
Credit: Rapid City CV 
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The Black Hills cover a 125-mile-long, 65-mile-wide area of western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming. Their name derives from the Lakota words Paha Sapa, which mean 'hills that are black.' When viewed from a distance (as seen here from Harney Peak), these pine-covered hills, rising several thousand feet above the surrounding prairie, appear black in color.  
Credit: bluecolt/Flickr 
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Even though Black Hills National Forest totals an expansive 1.25 million acres, the Black Hills feel distinctly manageable, especially for road-tripping families. Pick from a range of outdoor activities like fly-fishing, mountain biking, or hiking in accessible parklands including Wind Cave National Park (pictured), Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, and nearby Badlands National Park. Rapid City is the area's main gateway.  
Credit: South Dakota Tourism 
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Backpacking, motorcycle touring, camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, canoeing, rock climbing; the outdoor poison is there for your picking. The exhilarating Tinton Trail near Spearfish or the easier-grade Mickelson Trail (pictured), linking the town of Deadwood to Edgemont, are two popular biking routes. Custer State Park holds some of the most popular spots for canoeists, not to mention plentiful camping and hiking.  
Credit: Chad Coppess/South Dakota Tourism 
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Custer's resident bison have more than 71,000 acres to graze, regularly bringing traffic to a standstill along the park's 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road. These massive creatures were crucial to the lives of the area's Lakota people, who relied on the 'tatanka' for food, clothing, and shelter. Every September, one of the largest bison roundups in the nation is held to control the size of the park's population.  
Credit: Chad Coppess/South Dakota Tourism 
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Badlands National Park is just 85 miles east of Rapid City, and stands in stark contrast to the more alpine-esque Black Hills. Drive through this arid and wind-sculpted place on the park's Badlands Loop Road, or better yet, have someone shuttle you up to Pinnacles Overlook and cruise downhill for 22 miles to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.  
Credit: South Dakota Tourism 
 
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