From the Badlands we drove to the Black Hills and visited the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial (#50) (https://www.nps.gov/moru). We took the conventional photos of the presidents with blue sky and white clouds in the background. We checked out the exhibits on the history of the memorial and its master sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, and were on our way after a 90-minute stop.
We headed north through the Black Hills and stopped at the historic mining town of Deadwood, getting not only a taste of that town, but some “canned on the spot” beer from the “Sick and Twisted” microbrewery to take to our friends in Billings. We then traveled west into Wyoming and stopped at Keyhole State Park near Devil’s Tower.
In the morning it was a 30-minute drive to get to Devil’s Tower National Monument (#51) (https://www.nps.gov/deto), the first National Monument in the US, created by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. The weather was delightful; a sunny, but not too hot day and an easy one-hour walk around the Tower We watched some climbers making their way up this world-renowned climbing challenge and tried in vain to see the falcons that roost on the upper reaches.
After a picnic lunch near the Belle Fourche river, we jumped back on I-90 and really felt that we entered “the west” when we saw the snow-covered Big Horn mountains 50 miles to the west of us. We spent the night in Sheridan, Wyoming, once again nearly alone at an RV park.
In the morning we took a few minutes to visit the Sheridan Inn (National Historic Landmark) and then drove north into Montana and stopped at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (#52) (https://www.nps.gov/libi), where Custer and most of his 7th Cavalry met their demise at the hands of the Lakotas and Cheyennes. Having seen the Washita National Battlefield in Oklahoma earlier on this trip (where Custer massacred the Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief Black Kettle and much of his tribe) this was a fitting “bookend.” We drove on to Billings, Montana, where we enjoyed a meal out and sleep in a real bed with our friends David and Mary Lee Darby.