Mount Rushmore National Memorial
A symbol of the American spirit carved into the bones of the nation. Today the memorial draws millions of visitors annually, and is a patriotic symbol like no other.
Mount Rushmore stands as one of the best known monuments, as well as one of the greatest achievements, in the United States. 500 feet above the ground, the faces of four great American Presidents are carved 60 feet high into the side of the mountain. Completed in 1941, after 14 years of construction, the majestic carving features Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt, and Jefferson, all gazing out over the nation.
Best Spots to View Mt. Rushmore
The carving on the mountain can be seen from the winding road climbing into the Black Hills to the memorial site, where the observation deck at the Visitor Center offers an unobstructed view. The Presidential Trail brings visitors closer to the mountain for an even better look; this easy walking path passes through a peaceful natural area.
During the summer months the memorial is open into the evening for a special evening lighting ceremony, in which the faces on the mountain are lit up spectacularly after the sun has gone down. This ceremony takes place after full dark, creating a dramatic moment when the carving becomes visible once again.
The Memorial is open for viewing throughout the year, although inclement weather can cause the Presidential Trail to be closed.
Exploring Mount Rushmore
Visitors to Mount Rushmore will find themselves walking through the Avenue of Flags, where the flags of each state are displayed along a path that leads to the Grandview Terrace and the Amphitheatre where special programs and events take place throughout the year.
The Visitor Center at Mount Rushmore features a number of exhibits. as well as a short film that provide an inside look at how the monumental task or carving the mountain was completed. On display is a selection of the gear that was used during construction to raise workers to the great heights of the mountain’s face. The Sculptor’s Studio is also open during the warmer months to allow visitors a look at how the creation came together.
A variety of free Ranger and Sculptor’s Studio talks are available in the centers, as well as guided walks with Park Rangers who will provide a deeper understanding of the memorial and its construction. An audio tour rental allows a more private experience at each visitor’s personal pace, for a small fee.
The Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Heritage Village, located not far down the Presidential Trail, offers an opportunity to learn more about the native people of the area and life in the Black Hills centuries ago. Guided tours allow a deeper look at the village and offer insight into what life would have been like for those who called the Black Hills home.
Visiting Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore is open to visitors all through the year, with the exception of December 25th. There is a per-vehicle fee for parking, but entrance to the memorial, guided tours and exhibits, special programs and the evening lighting ceremony do not have a cost. Some limited RV parking is available.
Mount Rushmore’s visitor center and exhibits are suitable for all ages, and accessible to all, making this all-American monument welcoming to a wide variety of visitors.
The Black Hills of South Dakota are beautiful in all seasons; be prepared and dress appropriately for the weather when you visit, as the best viewing of Mount Rushmore is found outdoors.
The surrounding Black Hills offer a number of activities and attractions that surround Mount Rushmore, including opportunities for hiking and even rock climbing, although certain parts of the mountain near the carving are off limits to climbers. Visitors may catch a glimpse of the Rocky Mountain Goat, a species that roams the hills freely, along with other wildlife.
Getting To Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore is a short 20-minute drive from Rapid City, SD, making it easy to access for visitors staying in the city. The historic towns of Hill City and Keystone offer lodging as well, with Keystone being the closest lodging to the Memorial itself.
For those who want to feel closer to the beauty of the Black Hills, campgrounds are available in the surrounding area. Custer State Park and Black Hills National Forest both offer a variety of campgrounds. There are also numerous RV parks in the area of the memorial.
Tour buses out of Rapid City take visitors on scenic tours of the Black Hills surrounding the memorial as well as directly to the memorial itself. Some tours include other famous attractions in the surrounding area including Custer State Park and the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial.