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Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, SD

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Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

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Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

"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. - Copyright © 2014 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Things you can't miss

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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.

Look Deep Into My Eyes

Image Credit: AnitaBurke/Getty Images

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.

Another Stone Face

Image Credit: Michele Falzone / Alamy

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.

All Aboard!

Image Credit: south-dakota-black-hills-train-keystone

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.

Spelunker’s Delight

Image Credit: Tom Bean / Alamy

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.

Meanwhile, Back in the City

Image Credit: Walter Bibikow/JAI/Corbis

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Must Reads Before You Go

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5 Great Train Journeys Across America

by Alexis Flippin

Amtrak offers scenic train journeys across America that reveal the majesty of the American landscape and glimpses of the heartland.

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5 Things Not to Do in National Parks

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National parks and state parks are beautiful places to visit and go hiking. Maximize your fun by avoiding these common mistakes - like running out of gas or getting dehydrated.

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10 Ways to Get Kicked Off a Flight

by Christine Delsol

Air travel rules vary by airline, but follow these common standards to avoid being prohibited from flying.

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5 Tips for Taking Vacation Photos

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Use these digital photography tips to take great vacation photos on every trip.

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