Driving up from North Platte, Nebraska, I decided to take some back roads.  The rolling hills and green prairies were a sight to see.
Ah, the open road at 75 mph.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
As soon as you arrive in South Dakota, you will see signs for Wall Drug.  Figured I would stop, take a look and have some lunch.

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
Had a buffalo hot dog.  It was different, but tasty.

 
 

 
 
Definitely the highlight of the trip.  Mount Rushmore National Memorial was spectacular.  I visited the national park twice.  The pass is good for a year at $8.

Here is the view after walking out of the parking garage.

 
 
Here is the view after entering the park.  The Avenue of Flags is in the foreground.

 
 
Mount Rushmore

 
 
Hope I don't bore you with too many pictures of Mount Rushmore.  The walking trails in the park provided many different angles from which to view the monument.

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
The first night I stayed around for the lighting ceremony at 9:30pm.

On this day, I was able to walk around the park as it wasn't as busy as it was on July 3rd when they had fireworks and activities.

 
 
 

 
 
On July 3rd, I got to Mount Rushmore early to get a good seat for the fireworks.  Everyone I spoke with said I should get there early as the parking lot fills up and closes at 10 am.  I got there at 6:30 am.  Unfortunately, we couldn't get in line till 6:45 am for when the gates open at 7 am.

   
   
 

   
   
In line at 6:45 am waiting for the gates to open at 7 am.

   
   
Around 7 am, the cafeteria was nearly empty.  Later the cafeteria would be packed with hungry people.

   
   
View from the cafeteria.

   
   
The onsite museum was very good.  It had neat items on display and explained how Mount Rushmore was made.  Ninety percent of the carvings were made with dynamite.

   
   
The amphitheater was fairly empty around 7 am.

   
   
I found a comfortable place to the left of the amphitheater on the grassy knoll.  The ground sloped at a 45-degree angle in most places.  I found a spot that was half sloping and half level near a little tree.  The grassy knoll was fairly empty for an hour or so.  Since it was a little before 8 am, and since fireworks weren't till 9:30 pm.  I figured I should take a nap.

   
   
Here is the view from my spot on the grassy knoll.

   
   
The crowds starting pouring in.  Festivities didn't start till 1 pm.  I took another nap.

   
   
 

   
   
 

   
   
Festivities began at 1 pm.  At least we had something to watch and distract us till the fireworks at 9:30 pm.

   
   
They had all sorts of entertainment for all age groups.  It was a nice, warm day out in the fresh air.

   
 
The weather was pretty nice.  It was hot at times when the sun beamed down.  It was partly cloudy with temps in the upper 80s.

 

   
   
 

   
   
There is my spot for the day.  The one marked with a Mount Rushmore beach towel and blue bag.

   
   
 

   
   
Looking up the grassy knoll.

   
   
 

   
   
The Air Force Band was pretty good and played before the fireworks.

   
   
They performed the lighting ceremony.

   
   
 

   
   
The Air Force Band played on.

   
   
Yahoo!  Finally... Fireworks!!!

   
   
I took more pictures with my 35mm hoping that 400 film brings out the fireworks better.  Although I am surprised my little digital camera got these shots.

The fireworks were spectacular as they shout out from behind the presidents' heads.  It was sort of surreal, but enjoyable and exciting. 

You weren't sure when the fireworks were over.  They kept going and going with multiple finales.  But in the end, after one hour, the finale ended with a good five minutes of nothing but bangs.  It was fantastic.

The fireworks were over at 10:30 pm and the crowd dispersed.  It wasn't till after 12 midnight that I was able to get through the traffic jam in the park and head back to the hotel.  I slept very good that night.

   
   
 

 

   

This page was last enhanced on Wednesday, July 20, 2005