Monday, July 27, 2015

Badlands National Park

The Badlands National Park in South Dakota is almost 250,000 acres of eroded buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires. Within the park is also the largest native mixed grass prairie in the United States. The area got its name from the Lakota Indians who called this place "mako sika" which translates into "land bad." 

Protected within the park are sites where Native Americans held Ghost Dances in the 1890's and a former United States Air Force bomb and gunnery range. The park is co-managed by the National Park and the Oglala Lakota Indian tribe.  

Last year, 977,778 visitors from all around the world came to see the rugged beauty of Badlands National Park where ancient mammals like rhinos, mammoth and sabre-tooth tigers roamed. When you tour the park now, keep a sharp lookout and you will see bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets. Also keep a sharp eye out for deadly rattlesnakes! If you stay on the paths though, you probably don't have to worry much about them as they generally try to stay away from humans.

At the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. It was
named after the 1st U.S. Congressman
from the Sioux Nation. 
Plan to spend at least a full day in the park so you can take your time driving the routes, hike some trails, and take some wonderful photographs. Lil Dude Troll certainly enjoyed his trip here and he's sure you will too!

Lil Dude isn't afraid of a rattlesnake -
as long as it is dead and enclosed in a
glass display case! 
Just inside the park on the prairie just
before the "bad lands" begins. 

Hiking a trail into the bad lands.
Hiked just a short distance and the
bad lands start just down the trail. 

Bad lands for sure!

In another area of the park where the
prairie grasses come right up to the
canyons of the bad lands.

Don't forget to watch out for those

Monday, July 13, 2015

Crazy Horse Memorial

In the Black Hills of South Dakota is the Crazy Horse mountain monument. Work began on the huge undertaking in 1948 and there is still a long, long way to go before it is completed. If it ever is completed, it will be the world's largest non-religious sculpture.

The memorial is comprised of the mountain sculpture, a visitor center, the Indian Museum of North America, and the Native American Cultural Center. 

The mountain in 2014
Work began on June 3, 1948 by Korczak Ziolkowski, a noted sculptor who worked under Gutzon Borglum on Mount Rushmore. When work began, only a small 2-lane road led to the site and a small unremarkable visitor center was built at the foot of the mountain. Entrance was free. Korczak and his wife, Ruth, lived nearby and while Ruth raised their 10 children, he diligently worked blasting away the mountain's rocks. The government offered to help with the funding, but it was refused in favor of private donations and funds raised at the visitor center to ensure the government would not place unwanted demands on the project. Korczak often worked 6 and 7 days a week until his death in 1982. Upon his death, Ruth took over the project. 

What the monument will eventually
look like
No time-table has been given with a projected completion date, but a 6-lane highway now leads to the site which is visited by over 1 million tourists each year. Numerous manned toll-booths located before arriving at the parking lot ensure each visitor pays the $10 entrance fee. Work on the mountain slowly continues.

The large, ornate gate near the visitor center
The inside of the very large, very ornate
visitor center