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Mt. Rushmore & the Black Hills, SD

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Mount Rushmore

Day View of Mount Rushmore

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Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore at Night

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Mount Rushmore

Side View of Mount Rushmore

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"An emerald isle in a sea of prairie," as they are sometimes called, the Black Hills rise up from the western South Dakota plains just over the Wyoming state line and about 150 miles east of the Big Horn range of the Rocky Mountains. They aren't as high—Harney Peak, their tallest summit, measures 7,242 feet—and they cover a territory only 50 miles wide and 120 miles long, but these ponderosa-covered mountains have a majesty all their own. Alpine meadows, thick forests, and creek-carved canyons: the landscape of the Black Hills and Badlands region more closely resembles Big Horn and Yellowstone country than it does South Dakota's typical flat farmland.

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Things You Can't Miss

Place
Look Deep Into My Eyes
Look Deep Into My Eyes

At Mount Rushmore, take a moment to examine the eyes of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. They sparkle, thanks to shallow recesses in the carved granite.

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Image Credit

AnitaBurke/Getty Images

Place
Another Stone Face
Another Stone Face

A work in progress since 1948, a monument of Lakota warrior leader Crazy Horse is being carved out of the side of Thunderhead Mountain.

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Image Credit

Michele Falzone / Alamy

Place
All Aboard!
All Aboard!

The 1880 train offers a different way to see the Black Hills. Catch the restored steam locomotive at Hill City or Keystone for a two-hour round trip.

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Image Credit

south-dakota-black-hills-train-keystone

Place
Spelunker’s Delight
Spelunker’s Delight

Only a small section of Wind Cave’s 140 miles are mapped. There’s an easy one-hour tour or a four-hour expedition requiring kneepads and hard hats.

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Image Credit

Tom Bean / Alamy

Place
Meanwhile, Back in the City
Meanwhile, Back in the City

Main Street Square in Rapid City, 25 miles northeast of Rushmore, offers a contrast to the state’s wild side. Enjoy omelets at Tally’s Silver Spoon restaurant.

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Image Credit

Walter Bibikow/JAI/Corbis

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