South Dakota (1,745 m, N/A) – World’s Largest Rock Carvings
Mount Rushmore and Mount Thunderhead are home to two of the world’s largest and most famous mountain sculptures: presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt (Teddy) on the former; and Lakota chief Crazy Horse on the latter. These absolutely jaw-dropping carvings are among the greatest works of art, and among the greatest feats of carving, in the world. The Crazy Horse Memorial is still a work in progress after sixty years, but is still a major tourist draw.
The story of these two mountains is closely tied to the story of the Black Hills. These hills, inhabited by native tribes since ancient times, were among the most sacred pre-Colombian places in the Americas. They were also one of the last places where these tribes, specifically the Lakota, remained free. Unfortunately, a gold rush brought tens of thousands of white settlers to the area, and the native tribes were completely marginalized. In the first half of the 20th century, Mount Rushmore was transformed into a memorial to the American presidents. In response to what they saw as a desecration of the land, the Crazy Horse Memorial was founded in 1948. It has been under construction ever since.
Mount Rushmore and Mount Thunderhead are located in the heart of the Black Hills about fifteen miles from each other. Although isolated, the area has considerable tourism infrastructure, and there are extensive visitor facilities at both mountains. Located in one of the mos remote places in America, the closes major access to the Black Hills is through Rapid City, approximately twenty miles to the northeast of Rushmore.