Heading into the Black Hills
Back on the road after having spent several days in the Badlands.
The Black Hills are, frankly, a world unto themselves. This is an amazing and almost magical place. Unlike some of the truly startling places like Yellowstone, the Black hills have enough conventional features to keep them from becoming surreal. Still, this is the place where you will find Sturgis, Deadwood, Lead, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and a number of amazing natural and man made features. The variety, individuality, and freedom of the place almost defy description. Where else do you have sculptures blasted into mountain sides? The spirits of the old Indian, pioneer, prospector, and explorer are still very much alive here. This place really affects people. What will be done here next?
Back on the road and heading towards the Black Hills, which can be seen off in the distance. I love the Badlands (as was obvious by the abundance of photographs), but it is nice to escape the heat.
We are already kind of in the boundary areas of the Black Hills, as can be seen by forrestation.
Going up into the Black Hills themselves. This whole area has a very pleasant aspect to it. Not paradise, exactly, but pretty close.
We were passing through Keystone, SD which is just inside of the Black Hills, and perhaps twenty miles south west of Rapid City. This is more or less the gateway to Mount Rushmore, as well as to the Needles Highway, and several other scenic attractions. 
Downtown Keystone, complete with fudge shops, an old time photo studio, ice cream parlor, and numerous museums, arcades, and exhibits. My kind of place, actually; we stopped to look at some Black Hills gold, and at some souvenirs.
The road curves out of town, and begins an immediate, and in many places, steep ascent.
Hills, and some areas of exposed granite can be seen in the distance, we are climbing up into some of the higher, more mountainous areas of the Black Hills.
Heading towards the monument, as the sign points out. These roads are exceptionally steep, in many places, and had actually caused my van to stall, on my previous visit. The wagon gave me a bit of trouble too, but I was prepared for it. 
The Black Hills are full of scenic drives. These narrow roads, twist and turn. They are not for the careless. 
The nearly invisible sign, to the right, tells us that we are officially entering the Mount Rushmore monument. The sculpture itself is still several miles ahead.
Climbing higher, there is a bit less shade, but it is still comfortably cool, particularly when compared to the heat of the plains below.
As we round this bend, we are looking at the back of Mount Rushmore. Just to the right of the center of the photo, this mountain seems to be raising a hand in greeting. 
By George, I think this is the place! It's as if the President is rising politely to greet us. It is also obvious where the inspiration for this work came from. It seems as if there are several faces straining to peer out of the rocks at me. 
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