Even though we had already experienced many national parks, we found both the Balck Hills as well as the Badlands impressive. Upon our arrival, a heard of bisons welcomed us to Black Hills, which we entered through Custer State park.
We took the Needles Highway, a scenic drive to Mount Rushmore. We could see the four presidential heads – Washington, Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Jefferson – posing in distance through the several tunnels of the highway.
The weather was hot, we discovered when arrived at Mount Rushmore, which could only be accessed by parking a car in a huge parking garage from where we walked up to the visitors center and the actual site. The site was super tourisitic.
The loop walk along the mountain with several views up towards the heads turned out to be very nice. The presidential heads were enormous. They were strikingly one the most powerful materialization of the white mail dominated world we have and still live in I had ever seen and experienced.
We spent the night in Hill City, and the next day took another scenic drive, highway 16 before driving through the Badlands. We stopped for a swim and picnic at Sylvan lake, a gorgeous clear water lake surrounded by huge rocks. There was a nice walk around the lake and just perfect to walk and explore with kids.
The Badlands, an extensive area of desert like terrain where the land and the rocks have been extensively eroded by wind and water, was stunning. The temperature outside was 110 Farenheit (44 Celsius), and one could just imagine how hard it must have been to try to make ones way through these beautiful – and yet bad – lands as a Native American riding on a horse.
With the Badlands in our rear mirror, corn fields appeared. We drove through various empty looking villages and observed signs with God’s greetings followed by signs with welcoming to Casinos and (free!) whiskey tastings.
Driving through Rosebud, Indian Reservation in South Dakota made the ambiguity surrounding us suddenly very tangible: these lands used to belong to very different people with very unique, and rich cultures, and now a fragment that’s left of these people has been gathered to live in reservations, and run casinos for living.
As we left the natural parks behind, we entered the very central states of the US. It had taken us more than two weeks to get middle way, and it would only take us five more days to arrive at our final destination of the road trip, North Carolina.