The Black Hills region of South Dakota is unofficially the world’s capital of giant heads; four on Mount Rushmore and one memorial to Crazy Horse.
After a long drive to an aborted hike took us within 10 miles of the memorial, we decided to swing by and check it out. At the foot of the mountain we found a small information booth and figured we could get directions to a new hiking trail – the day was not completely lost. Or so we thought. When I approached the booth I must have missed the quote marks surrounding the word “information” because none was to be had there.
Resigned to the fact that hiking was not in our immediate future, I asked about the price of admission to the memorial. “$10 each.”
“But it’s not even close to being finished,” I protested. “Twenty bucks seems kind of steep, don’t you think?” A disinterested shrug answered my question. I persisted by pointing up the mountain. “I can see it from here for free.” Another shrug.
Closing my wallet, I promised to return once the memorial is finished. Expected completion date: undetermined.
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“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” – Steven Wright
That is mostly true, but I’m pretty sure I can’t walk to Japan. Not because of the distance involved but because it is an island. As much as I like to think I’m perfect, my water walking skills are strangely underdeveloped.
But the larger point is accurate. Plenty of people walk the entire 2,181-mile length of the Appalachian Trail. Others have walked coast to coast. Further treks are possible for anyone with the determination to undertake them. So it’s true that “walking distance” isn’t really an objective distance at all but rather a personal preference.
There are few places as uniquely American as South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore. No U.S. road trip would be complete without a stop at the giant granite visages of these four historic presidents. Yet it is also one of those places that everyone has already seen in pictures, and pictures do it justice.