Le Grand Détour

National Parks

29 June 2017

Rapid City is a strange name for a city. Particularly considering that it did not feel very rapid. In fact, nothing over here does. Indeed, it is not named after its people, but rather the rapids in Rapid Creek by which the city is built.

Driving into the Black Hills, people really only do it for one purpose: To see Mount Rushmore. I do not care much for crowded areas with tourists. It is an experience in a city like New York, but tourist sights far from civilisation? Forget about it! So I decided to approach Mount Rushmore from a more American perspective: Simply driving by without stopping.


Drive by sight seeing. Is this not the most American way to see sights? Here you have Mount Rushmore from the road.

Besides, Mount Rushmore is not as impressive as I had anticipated. Fortunately a Canadian warned me before hand. Indeed, what I found more impressive was a sight nearby called Crazy Horse. This unfinished carving into the mountain was more interesting given its lack of completion and the fact that they are still going.


Sticking to my guns, I decided not get too close to the sight while seeing Crazy Horse.

After a bit more pondering as to why they are so keen on carving out faces in this area, I drove off into Wyoming. And headed North to something called Devils Tower. For some reason, the apostrophe in "Devils Tower" has vanished at some point. But then again, the name itself is a mistranslation of the native name "Bear's House", so who cares? It is technically speaking a butte (not pronounced like 'butt', it comes from French).


This was the photo location that they recommended, so I took it. And this time I could get my car in the shot.

And skipping on that sight, I then went over to Yellowstone after a beautiful drive through the mountains. I thought I had arrived late, so there would less people, but alas I was wrong.


It was not just people who were there, but also bisons crossing the road.

National Parks are rather different from those we have in Europe. National Parks over here are not just protected areas, but commodities, that people can visit for a fee. There are entrance points where you drive your car in. There are plenty of forests and other natural sights in Europe to see, but seldom is it treated like a museum.

Drive around Gorges du Verdon in France, that is an incredible sight to behold, but there are no fees to pay, and two challenging roads line either side of the canyon. That is another thing I have noticed about driving in North America, even their more challenging roads are not as challenging as those you see in Europe. Their hairpin turns are not quite as hairpin as what you would expect, if you are more familiar with European mountain roads like I am.