We awoke at dawn the next morning and drove up to Mt. Rushmore. We paid the ridiculous fee to park at the lot to get the best view of the monument from the huge balcony that was erected. The monument is rather strange indeed, and is just as large and impressive as we had expected. However more impressive for us was the natural landscape of the area. The mountains of the Black Hills have a rounded jaggedness to them, with many vertical pillars and outcroppings that look like mountains Dr. Seuss would appreciate. The Black Hills are also wooded with evergreen trees.
Above: Mount Rushmore was impressive, but the Black Hills as a whole are even more beautiful.
After leaving Rushmore, we drove southwest and crossed into Wyoming. We stopped for lunch in Torrington, WY and hung out in a bar for a while, and we met some pretty entertaining locals, including an elderly couple who asked for our addresses so they could write to us and a drunk named Lloyd, who amused Jay and Rick to no end and invited us back to his house. Alas, we had a long day ahead of us, and we had to shove off.
Above: While driving south on US85 in northeastern Wyoming, we came to a spot about 50 miles in any direction from the nearest town, and we thought it was one of the most isolated, desolate places we’d ever seen. We stopped in the middle of the road and hung out for quite a while. No other car passed the whole time we were there. One of the coolest things about the western part of the country.
Highpoint: Panorama Point
Height: 5424 ft.
Highpoint #: 32
Vertical Gain: N/A
Time Taken: 30 minutes
Weather: sunny, breezy, 60's
Group: JO, BC, Jay and Rick
Comments: After we left Torrington, we went southeast into Nebraska, and continued south towards Panorama Point. On the way, BC got pulled over and was ticketed for going 80 in a 65. D'oh! As we were nearing the Nebraska high point, we came upon a huge bison behind a flimsy fence. Jay decided he had to have a picture of him standing next to it. After snapping said picture and quickly distancing ourselves from the bison, we reached Panorama Point. This highpoint is very very flat, but you can still tell that it is the highest point around. There was not a single tree or bush taller than a couple feet for as far as the eye could see all 360 degrees around. We took some pictures of the monument, and the battle-worn Explorer. Then we took to the road once again, as we had to get all the way to Black Mesa in Oklahoma tonight. We would be passing close to the Kansas highpoint, but we planned to hit Mount Sunflower on the way home about a week later.
Left: The “trusty” Explorer at Panorama Point. Right: Jay striking a pose on the summit monument.