The Black Hills, small mountains with shallow canyons, cover an area of2,150 square miles, Mount Rushmore, one of the most famous attractions in the country, presents the faces of four American presidents- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The faces are carved from a granite mountainside high above the treetops of the Black Hills. The carving took 14 years to complete and cost $1 million. three-fourths of which are in South Dakota and the remainder of which are in Wyoming. The average elevation is 4,500 feet above mean sea level (AMSL), with peaks over 7,000 feet AMSL. Many small towns and tourist getaways dot the scenic slopes of the Black Hills. The area is also expected to experience substantial growth in the next two decades due to its favorable economic environment as well as the recreational opportunities available.
Badlands National Park, with it's moon-like surface, is one of the richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds dating back 37 million years. When the Lakota first discovered the moon-like landscape, they called the area "Mako Sica" or "Bad Land". The jagged spires, eroded buttes and deep crevasses of the Badlands offer unique scenery that you can explore on foot, horseback or by car. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife like buffalo, bighorn sheep, antelope and the black-footed ferret. The byway, approximately 30-miles, follows the natural formations of the Badlands. This drive takes you on a scenic journey that weaves in and out of the native grasslands and lunar like surfaces of the park.
Custer State Park offers some of the most breathtaking scenic drives in the Black Hills. The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway includes Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road, starts in the park and takes drivers alongside slender granite needles, through rock tunnels and across pigtail bridges on the way to Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower, approximately 107 miles NW of Rapid City in Wyoming's Black Hills, the first national monument in 1906. The formation escalates to 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, just across the South Dakota border in Wyoming. American Indian legend holds that the rock sprang up just in tome to save two boys from a bear. The fluted nature of the rocks formed from the bear pawing at the rock. There are approximately 8 miles of hiking trails that take you around the monument. Some of the popular trails are paved and accessible, others take you through forests and prairie meadows.
Photos and content courtesy of Rapid City CVB (www.visitrapidcity.com)