Black Hills welcomes visitors from all over

Gray Hughes

This past weekend — Memorial Day weekend — marked the unofficial start of summer, and visitors were out in full force.

At Mount Rushmore National Memorial on Friday, the monument grounds — while still undergoing renovations — had a steady stream of people coming from all over the county to catch a glimpse of the famous stone faces.

In the parking lot at the memorial, there were license plates from states spanning the entire nation — from New York to California — all to visit the Shrine of Democracy to not only check off a bucket list item for many but to remember those lost in war.

Randall Davis, 54, of Louisville, Kent., was one of those who was at the monument on Friday.

“What better place to remember those who lost their lives serving our great nation than at Mount Rushmore?” Davis said.

Davis was on a road trip with his wife. They wanted to do something memorable after spending much of their spring cooped up at home.

Friday was the last day Mount Rushmore’s facilities were closed due to COVID-19. On May 19, the memorial posted on Facebook that: “After careful consideration and consultation with local and state health authorities, we are pleased to announce that Mount Rushmore’s parking lot, retail shops and Memorial Team Ice Cream will open earlier than expected on Saturday May 23.”

Keystone had look similar to Mount Rushmore.

There, businesses were open and people were darting in and out. Some were enjoying frozen treats while others were shopping for that new T-shirt to show that they were somewhere.

Maria Garcia, 37, of Mesa, Ariz., was one of those in Keystone enjoying what the Hills has to offer. She was in Keystone waiting to meet some friends, and she was happy to be out and about again.

“It’s nice just to be out again,” she said.

Work on Highway 16A was on hold on Friday, providing a quite enjoyable area for visitors to take in one of the most popular tourist spots in the Hills.

Hill City also had people visiting from all over on Friday.

All week before Memorial Day weekend, Main Street through the heart of Hill City saw a parade of campers. The sound of motorcycle engines, too, was common.

Gary Nelson, 64, of St. Cloud, Minn., was one of those people in Hill City on Friday enjoying what the town had to offer.

“If you didn’t know we were in the midst of a pandemic, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the people in Hill City,” he said.

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