Make it Monumental

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burro623When you go to Custer State Park, they tell you to keep a safe distance from the bison. -- the lumbering beasts that walk the roads with that "leave-me-alone" demeanor. It's easy to see why.

But they don't tell you keep your distance from the park's roaming herd of burros. I'm not sure it's possible to keep your distance from these guys. To say the burros are friendly would be an understatement. Not only do they come running when a car pulls over, they poke their enormous heads right in the window. One woman told me once that a burro actually tried to climb into her minivan.

The Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup is an awe-inspiring experience that you will never forget. When some 1,300 bison come galloping across the hillside, it simply takes your breath away. After they are safely corralled, you can walk to the fence and get a close-up look at these magnificent beasts.

nicolasOK, the producers of "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" took a few liberties with the Black Hills geography. But it's still a great movie, and Keystone was proud to host the cast and crew during filiming in 2007. The film starred Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren and Diane Kruger, and the stars were spotted at coffee shops and visitor attractions all around the region. 

cc-dedicates-rushmore-1927

 

'We have come here to dedicate a cornerstone laid by the hand of the Almighty. ...The union of these four presidents carved on the face of the everlasting Black Hills of South Dakota ... will be distinctly American in its conception, in its magnitude, in its meaning. ... No one can look upon it without realizing it is a picture of hope fulfilled.'

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum and President Calvin Coolidge had a rocky relationship (so to speak).

Even before Borglum had begun the carving of Mount Rushmore, he had annoyed the 30th president. Back in 1924, when Borglum was promoting his plan to carve Stone Mountain, Ga., into a Confederate memorial, he persuaded Coolidge to support a plan to mint special 50-cent coins to help raise money for the project. The coins were minted, but Borglum abandoned the project.

There's an old joke about two tourists in Custer State Park who encounter an agitated bull buffalo. One of the tourists reaches into his backpack, pulls out a pair of running shoes and puts them on.

"You really think you can run faster than that bison?" his friend asks.

"I don't have to run faster than the bison," the hiker replies as he bolts off across the pasture, leaving his friend behind.

If you want to understand bison behavior, there's one very important thing to remember. If the animal is flicking its tail, it's planning to either charge, or discharge. Better hope it's the latter, because there's not much you can do about the former.

However, there's no need to be overly concerned. Bikes and bison have coexisted quite nicely in Custer State Park since the first Sturgis Rally in 1938. But it's the biker's responsibility, not the bison's, to make the relationship work. While not exactly friendly, most bison are willing to ignore people in cars and on motorcycles.

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