While traveling in the Black Hills for book signings for my new book And The Wind Whispered, I not only revisited the areas of the southern Hills that are the setting for the book, but also traveled through the region just north of the spectacular Crazy Horse Mountain up through the area housing the Needles spires. The southern Hills have their own personality of granite spires accented by clear blue skies – although we were following a rainstorm through the region and seeing the back sides of the cloud banks setting off the now sun-splashed granite peaks and rock walls.
Those rock outcroppings are what first drew sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who realized that even if the needles and surrounding spires might be too small, but the cliff called Mount Rushmore was a perfect size and setting for his soon-to-become national “shrine of democracy.”
If you’re more interested in climbing rocks than carving them, you’re in luck. The granite spires near these photos (taken by my wife Susan) are favorites of rock climbers. And nearby 7,242 foot Harney Peak, located in the Black Elk Wilderness Area, marks the highest U.S. point east of the Rocky Mountains looking down on pristine mountain lakes and streams – breathtaking at the very least.
But if you just want to drive, two of the most spectacular drives anywhere – Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road, featuring narrow one-way rock tunnels and perfect framing views of Mount Rushmore – await.
The Black Hills truly are a source of rejuvenation for any writer.
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