Monday, October 15, 2012

Road Trip (Part 8): Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore was the first tourist place I visited which attracted a lot of foreigners. There were German, Japanese and British people there, and probably a few others whose languages I couldn't decipher.  My iPad doesn't do a good job when it comes to taking pictures of far off objects, so I used a real camera at this place.

Mount Rushmore was just as fantastic as I thought it would be, and there was even a nice walking trail for people to use.  I like hikes in the woods, so this was right up my alley, and it gave me a chance to see Rushmore for different angles.

My only real complaint? The place is run by a non-profit organization, that charges an $11 entry fee.  What a rip-off.  National parks should be free; that's why the US Government's National Parks and Recreation Services subsidizes them.  I mean, I paid taxes last year.  That means I helped pay for Mount Rushmore.  I shouldn't have to pay anything extra to a "non-profit" that must make thousands of dollars per day.

You can definitely expect to spend money in Mount Rushmore.  It was built specifically to bring in tourists, which makes me a little sad.  I thought it was built for patriotic reasons, not capitalistic reasons.  So I was a bit surprised to learn that Rushmore and all the surrounding area is a blatant tourist trap.

That said, I would like to go back again and spend an entire day, seeing all the crazy tourist attractions, such as the Presdiential Wax Museum, or the Christmas Village featuring a mastodon.  The dinosaur park looked pretty awesome, too.

Actually, about a half-hour east of Rapid City, there's a town called Wall, with an amazing drugstore. Wall Drug is a tourist's dream stop. It's huge, it's got beautiful artwork, and I really wish I could have spent an hour to explore it fully. I only had time to get a buffalo burger, which is a hamburger made from buffalo meat. It was too dry to be very good, but I didn't want to put mayo on it, because then I wouldn't be able to taste the buffalo.

I mention Wall Drug in conjunction with the cool Rushmore-area dinosaur park, because the store has THIS:

Best drug store I've ever been to, hands down. That was one of about twenty attractions; others included a giant jackalope and an animatronic band.  The life-size animatronic T-Rex wins, though.


Anonymous said...

I love Wall Drug! Such a neat place! And Mt. Rushmore is nice, too.

Anonymous said...

i love wall drug when i stayed there. i even had to much sugar and jumped off my bed and sprained my arm. i love the drug store!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Nothing like seeing dead presidents carved into a stolen, sacred mountain.

Justice said...

Wow. Michael, you have no idea how weird it was for me to read this post, and especially to see those first two photos - I took two pictures *exactly* like that when I visited Mt. Rushmore last month. If I'd gone four weeks later or you'd gone four weeks sooner, we might've crossed paths. I can see it now: my sister and I recognizing you and completely forgetting about the monument while our parents wonder who we're staring at! Lol.

Anyway, I know what you mean about the fee (like everything else, it used to be less) and the whole area being a giant tourist trap. Still, I too had wanted to visit the Presidential Wax Museum while we were there. But our trip was too jam-packed with activities already - we barely had even an hour to spare.

Wall Drug - I saw a lot of signs for it as we drove home after visiting the Badlands, but once again, there weren't enough hours in the day (or days set aside for the vacation) to stop. That T-Rex was pretty cool; a little intimidating, actually. :D

Miriam said...

You should've taken a picture of the giant jackalope for Little Jackalope! :(

Paul Franzen said...

Yes! I love Wall Drug! I have a picture somewhere of a 10-year-old Paul standing next to a miniature replica of Mount Rushmore, looking very presidential in my sweatpants and eyeball necklace.