MOUNT RUSHMORE Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a large-scale mountain sculpture by artist Gutzon Borglum. The figures of America's most prominent U.S. presidents--George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt—represent 150 years of American history. The four "great faces" of the presidents tower 5,725 feet above sea level and are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall. There are many amenities at the site including a museum, three gift shops, a 15 minute film, informational park ranger talks, a short hike (trail with stairs), and last but certainly not least...... Thomas Jefferson's very own vanilla bean ice cream recipe! BADLANDS The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning “land bad.” Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. It is desolation at its truest, where you can look for miles and see no sign of civilization. This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. The Badlands are a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash). Wildlife roams the park's boundaries as well. Bison, pronghorn, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, butterflies, turtles, snakes, bluebirds, vultures, eagles and hawks are just some of the wildlife that can often be seen by visitors. MINUTEMEN MISSILE SITE Remember fallout shelters, Sputnik and the missile gap? Remember duck-and cover-drills, the Iron Curtain, the Red Scare and first-strike capability? The deadly drama underlying the Cold War is relived at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near Wall where visitors can see how the end of the world could have begun. The site is the first national park in the world dedicated to commemorating the events of the Cold War. Two 1960’s era Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) sites have been preserved for public viewing. Delta-09, an underground missile silo on the edge of Badlands National Park, held a Minuteman II missile that could send a nuclear weapon to the Soviet Union in 30 minutes. Delta-01 control center includes the topside support building and the underground control center capsule. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a ranger-guided tour of Delta-01, located at I-90 exit 127. Tours are by reservation only and limited to 6 people per tour. Self-guided tours are available at Delta-09 missile silo, located at I-90 Exit 116. The visitor center is located at I-90 exit 131, and features exhibits that allow visitors to explore Minuteman’s role in the Cold War. DEVILS TOWER Devils Tower National Monument, a unique and striking geologic wonder steeped in Indian legend, is a modern day national park and climbers' challenge. Devils Tower sits across the state line in northeast Wyoming. The Tower is a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation that looms 1,267 feet above the tree-lined Belle Fourche River Valley, like a skyscraper in the country. Once hidden below the earth’s surface, erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers revealing the Tower. The two-square-mile park surrounding the tower was proclaimed the nation’s first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The stone pillar is about 1,000 feet in diameter at the bottom and 275 feet at the top and that makes it the premier rock climbing challenge in the Black Hills. Hikers enjoy the Monument’s trails. The 1.25-mile Tower Trail encircles the base. This self-guided hike offers close-up views of the forest and wildlife, not to mention spectacular views of the Tower itself. The mountain’s markings are the basis for Native American legend. One legend has it that a giant bear clawed the grooves into the mountainside while chasing several young Indian maidens. Known by several northern plains tribes as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site of worship for many American Indians. JEWEL CAVE Beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota is the intriguing underground world of Jewel Cave. With over 190 miles of explored passageways, Jewel Cave ranks as the third longest caves in the world. With over 190 miles of documented trails, this underground environment can satiate even the most curious of humans. Brilliant color and fragile rocks reveal an amazing ecosystem not visible anywhere else. Guided cave tours provide opportunities for viewing this pristine cave system filled with calcite crystals and other wonders such as stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, frostwork, boxwork, flowstone and hydromagnesite balloons. WIND CAVE Over many years of exploration and mapping, Wind Cave has grown to be one of the world’s largest known caves. Currently over 142.75 miles of passages have been mapped making it the sixth longest cave in the world. Wind Cave has few stalactites and stalagmites, but many unusual formations and a variety of minerals are found in the cave. The cave is well known for its outstanding display of boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs. Along with this massive cave, Wind Cave National Park also features 28,295 acres of mixed-grass prairie, Ponderosa pine forest and wildlife. The park’s mixed-grass prairie is one of the few remaining and is home to native wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes and prairie dogs.
MUSEUM OF GEOLOGY South Dakota School of Mines houses the Museum of Geology. More Coming Soon!