"South Dakota" South Dakota by tejanasueca

South Dakota Travel Guide: 1,387 reviews and 3,550 photos

Mount Rushmore (Keystone)

I took a roadtrip from Denver to Keystone in South Dakota in June of 2004. Essentially, my dad and his wife had come all the way from Sweden to attend my graduation, and I wanted to make sure that they also got to see a new sight since they had travelled so far.

We drove up to Keystone a few days after my graduation. It took us about a day, but we took our time and made a few stops on the way. Keystone is kinda southwest in South Dakota, so coming from Denver it was not that far into the state.

We stayed at a nice hotel in downtown Keystone from wich we had walking distance to the "strip" of tourist stores and restaurants (maybe too many tourist shops for my taste). Every night (think at 9pm), there is a light show and the siging of the national anthem by Mt. Rushmore, so our first night we had just enough time to get some dinner and then attend this.

The first full day we were there we went up to Mt. Rushmore (to see it in daylight). We got lucky as it was a clear day (most other days it was rain and hard to get a clear view of the mountain). We listened to a little talk about how it was constructed, walked around in the area, and visited the shop (my dad and his wife are big into souvenires...I just kinda looked around).

After our visit at Mt. Rushmore, we drove around a little bit in the area...some cute little roads and stuff. We ended up finding a cute little restaurant (don't remember the name...sorry!), we're we eat some nice buffalo stew.

Custer State Park

The second day, we drove through Custer State Park on our way to the Crazy Horse Memorial (see below). It was a pretty decent ride, nothing super spectacular. The most interesting thing was to see the landscape and the free roaming buffalo herd.

Crazy Horse (Custer)

Crazy Horse was a very respected Native American leader. The Native American tribes consider the area around Custer and Keystone (20min apart) holy ground, and got somewhat offended when Mt. Rushmore was built on their holy land. In an effort to show that this is there land as well, the different tribes decided to build their own memorial of this great leader, and their memorial was to be WAY bigger than Mt. Rushmore. However, not surprisingly, they were not able to get federal funding for the project, and hence it is completely finance through private means. So, the project has been ongoing for (I think) over 50 years, and it it not close to being done. However, you can still go visit the area, where there is a really nice museum about the Native Americans in the area. The cost to enter the area is like $20, but most of that will go towards finishing the project.

In the picture, I'm standing next to the model for the project, with the actual mountain behind me.

To sum our trip up:

We stayed for three days in Keystone, but on the third day we really didn't know what to do, and ended up visiting some not so nice museums. Hence, two days is enough in this area, you might even be able to make it in one day if you hurry. The only two "must see activities" really is Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Two nice memorials that you can "check of your list to see"...
  • Cons:Very touristy, and not so much else to do...
  • In a nutshell:Worth stoping for a night if you're on a roadtrip...
  • Last visit to South Dakota: Jun 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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