Visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial? Everything You Need to Know!!

Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore depicts a conglomerate of massive granite sculptures of four influential U.S. Presidents. But there’s more to Mount Rushmore than just marveling at this incredible man-made wonder! It’s the perfect family vacation destination to experience patriotism and learn why this National Park is so popular. But before you go, we give you all the details to make your visit a memorable experience.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial Visitor Guide by Always On Liberty

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Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the most jaw-dropping man-made sculptures in the United States.

If you have never been out to the Black Hills of South Dakota, you truly don’t know what you’re missing. And proudly topping amidst the top of one of those black hills is a highly visited National Memorial that reminds us of the good things about America. 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial tells the story of our Nation’s birth, growth, development and preservation. You’ll learn the history of the first inhabitants to the diversity and rich heritage of America today.

You’ll get a great mix of American History with scenic beauty all wrapped up into one incredible experience.

Ultimate Mount Rushmore National Memorial Visitor Guide

Driving on Highway to Mount Rushmore National Memorial by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

As you’re driving to Mount Rushmore National Monument, the closer you get, you can catch first glimpse of the meticulously hand-chiseled granite faces of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Once you get to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, you’ll enter through the pay-to-park gate and make your way into the Park.

Once you enter the park, of course you’ll get to take your obligatory National Park photo shot for your scrapbooks or social media.

Who are the Presidents of Mount Rushmore National Memorial?

Mount Rushmore Lit Up at Night by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

George Washington – Commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). He served two terms as the first U.S. President of the United States, from 1789 to 1797. During the American Revolution, he led the colonial forces to victory over the British and became a national hero.

Thomas Jefferson – The primary draftsman of the Declaration of Independence of the United States. He was our Nation’s first Secretary of State  from 1789–94 and United States second Vice President from 1797–1801. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the third president of the United States until 1809. He was also the statesman responsible for the Louisiana Purchase.

Theodore Roosevelt – Nominated in 1900 as Vice President on a ticket with President McKinley after the death in office of Vice President Garret Hobart. Upon McKinley’s death, Roosevelt became the youngest man to assume the office of President.

After becoming president in 1901, Conservationist and avid outdoorsman, Roosevelt used his authority to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the United States Forest Service and establishing 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments.

Abraham Lincoln – An American lawyer and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the United States to ultimately defeat the Confederacy. Following his famous Gettysburg Address, he enacted measures to abolish slavery in the United States.

Things to do at Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Always On Liberty at Mount Rushmore National Memorial Sign
Photo by Always On Liberty©

As you enter through the corridors leading to the the most grand entrance, you’ll feel an incredible sense of pride and patriotism! There’s plenty of things to do at Mount Rushmore.

Visit the Mount Rushmore Information Center

Here you will find information about the Memorial as well as the the local area.

The Mount Rushmore Information Center is open daily with the exception of Christmas day (December 25th) at 8:00 a.m. but closes differentially during the following periods:

    • October through late May –  5:00 p.m. (closed December 25th)
    • Mid August through September 30 – 10:00 p.m.
    • Late May through mid August – 9:00 p.m.

Walk Through the Avenue of Flags

Mount Rushmore National Memorial Flag Walk by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

The Avenue of Flags was initially established as part of the celebration of the United States’ Bicentennial in 1976 at the request of a visitor.

There are 56 flags in all; representing all 50 states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths of the United States of America. They begin alphabetically from the concession building to the Grand View Terrace.

Take in the Grand View Terrace

Mount Rushmore National Memorial Grand View Terrace by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

As pass through the Avenue of Flags, your view of the Presidential busts carved from the stone mountain is front and. center. It’s a great place to grab a shot and take your bragging rights back home, ‘I posed for a photo with four Presidents!’.

Always On Liberty in Front of Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Photo by Always On Liberty©

The grandeur view of the stone faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln nestled in the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota is absolutely intriguing.

It’s hard not to think how those faces were chiseled to such perfection without computer automated machines. They were chiseled by hand and with jackhammers by hardened men in all sorts of weather.

Chronology of Mount Rushmore National Memorial Placard Sign by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

Learn About the History at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center

National Park Ranger Giving Talk at Mount Rushmore National Memorial by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center is located under the Grand View Terrace. There are several history museum exhibits along with a short video about the carving of Mount Rushmore and why it was established. There’s also a bookstore where you can find some interesting reads.

The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center opens daily at 8:00 a.m. (with the exception of Christmas day) but closes differentially during the following periods:

    • October through late May –  5:00 p.m. (closed December 25th)
    • Mid August through September 30 – 10:00 p.m.
    • Late May through mid August – 9:00 p.m.

Visit the Sculptor’s Studio

Power to Carve a Mountain Info Sign at Mount Rushmore by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

In the Sculptor’s Studio, you’ll meet and listen to the Park Ranger talk about Glutzon Borglum’s carving process and how the men who carved the faces lived and worked throughout their arduous commitment to completion. 

Walk Up the Presidential Trail

Always On Liberty on Presidential Trail at Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Photo by Always On Liberty©

Get some fresh air and exercise by walking the Presidential Trail. It’s a little over a half mile long and of course open when weather permits. Be aware though, the upward trek entails climbing 422 stairs through the wooded wilderness.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial Presidential Trail Stairs by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

While enjoying your hike, you may even get to see some wildlife. We got to get a rare glimpse of a mountain goat on the mountainside!

White Mountain Goat
Photo by Always On Liberty©

Enjoy the Self-Guided Audio Tour

While walking a scenic route around the park, listen to the audio tour wand or multimedia device to hear the vivid narrated story of Mount Rushmore National Memorial with music, interviews, historic recordings and sound effects.

The audio tour takes anywhere from 30-120 minutes. Rentals are available at the Audio Tour Building across from the Information Center. In the winter months, rentals are available inside the Information Center.

The tour and accompanying brochure are available in English, French, German, Lakota, and Spanish.

Listen and Learn at the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Heritage Village Talk

Learn and explore the history of the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota tribes and the Black Hills.

Explore the history of the Black Hills and the American Indian tribes who have populated this land for thousands of years. Located along the first section of the Presidential Trail, this area highlights the customs and traditions of local American Indian communities.

This program only runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m.. to 3:00 p.m. in early June through mid-August. Because this program is outdoors, it is weather permitting.

Experience the Youth Exploration Area

Family walking at Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is the perfect interactive venue for kids of all ages to explore the natural and learn about the cultural and historical aspects of the Park. This program is located along the first sections of the Presidential Trail. It’s open 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. daily from early June through early August.

Kid’s take part in the National Park Junior Ranger Program

Speaking of kids and regardless of which National Park you visit, get them involved the Junior Ranger Program. They will learn everything about our National Parks, including Mount Rushmore to their level of comprehension.

Junior Rangers can pick up booklets at the information desk. There are three different tiers of learning material; ages 3-4, ages 5-12 and teens from 13 and older.

Dine at Mount Rushmore National Memorial

After earning your appetite from climbing those 422 steps on the Presidential Trail, head back to the Carvers’ Café for some vittles. Reward kids of all ages, big and small, with ice cream at the Ice Cream Shop.

Shop for Souvenirs

There’s a fantastic gift shop near the cafe and ice cream shop. You can pick up souvenirs from t-shirts, inexpensive trinkets for the kids to lavish gifts to remember your visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Take Part in the Mount Rushmore Evening Closing Ceremony

Mount Rushmore National Memorial at Night by Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

We highly recommend staying for the Mount Rushmore Evening Closing Ceremony! It’s an inspirational program located in the amphitheater beginning at or even after sunset. If you’ve not felt that patriotic pull yet, you’re about to experience all the grandeur.

The program will begin with a Park Ranger talk focusing on the Presidents, our Nation’s history and of course, Patriotism. You’ll then enjoy watching a video “Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy” on the big movie screen which ends with the nightly lighting of the Memorial. 

But, the most heartfelt patriotic experience is at the end of the program! If you’re a Military Veteran, this is a very special time of recognition. Veterans are invited to stand proudly on stage sharing the spotlight with the Presidents peering over us.

Truly, this is an incredible sense of honor bestowed to those who served our Country through peacetime or war.

Just a side note for trip planning, the closing ceremony nightly program is only held from late May until the end of September. Also, be aware this particular program is weather dependent.

Plan your visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial

How to get to Mount Rushmore

Map of Mount Rushmore and Black Hills and Badlands Region

Traveling by car or motorcycle on I-90, you should exit at Rapid City and follow U.S. Highway 16 southwest to Keystone and then Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore.

If you’re arriving from the south, you should follow Highway 385 north to Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore.

Be prepared for entrance backups during the busy summer weekends and months.

For more information, check out the National Park Service informative maps of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Best time to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial?

Always On Liberty Motorcycles at Mount Rushmore National Memorial Sign
Photo by Always On Liberty©
Almost three million people visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial each year. While the summer months are obviously the park’s busiest, the late spring and early fall months are most popular as they are less busy and the temperatures are cooler.
 

Early March through September, weather permitting, the grounds at Mount Rushmore are open daily throughout the year. With the exception of Christmas day (December 25), the Information Center, gift shop and Carver’s Market Place are open as well.

For information on operating hours for the Mount Rushmore grounds, Information Visitors Center and the Lincoln Borglum Visitors Center, check out the Mount Rushmore National Park info page.

 

Weather at Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial - Sunset

Weather at Mount Rushmore can be highly variable during any season. The summer months of July and August are the warmest months while early winter month of December and January being the coldest. We recommend you dress for snow in March and April. Plan on bringing and wearing raincoats in the May and June.
 
      • Summer high temperatures range from 70 to 100 degrees
      • Fall high temperatures range from 45 to 80 degrees
      • Winter high temperatures range from 20 to 40 degrees
      • Spring high temperatures range from 30 to 70 degrees

Mount Rushmore Operating Hours

Mount Rushmore National Memorial grounds opens at 5:00 a.m. and closes at different periods throughout the year. We recommend checking with the Mount Rushmore National Memorial operating hours and seasons for more information.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial Entry Fees

While there are no entrance fees to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, there is a parking fee for private passenger vehicles which are valid for one year from date of purchase. That said, there is a parking fee discount for Seniors age 62 and older. And parking is free for Active Duty Military only. Unfortunately, there no parking discount for Military Veterans.

Important to note though, National Park Pass holders are not exempt from parking fees.

Be aware if you’re thinking of bringing your RV, extra long vehicles and trailer parking is almost nonexistent. Also, there is no overnight parking at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. So, you’ll need to park your RV at a campground or RV park.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is ADA compliant

Mount Rushmore Presidential Trail
Photo by Always On Liberty©

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is accessible and for those who are mobility-impaired. Wheelchairs are available to borrow at the Information Center as first come first serve.

Elevators are accessible from the Grand View Terrace to the museum lobby and Amphitheater. The Carver’s Cafe and gift shop are also both accessible for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and walkers.

The Sculptor’s Studio is also wheelchair accessible from the remote parking area depending on security measures. We recommend checking with the Ranger in the Information Center.

The Presidential Trail asphalt surface is accommodating for wheelchairs from the Grand View Terrace to viewing areas at the base of the mountain.

Are pets welcome at Mount Rushmore National Memorial?

Pets are permitted only in the parking garages and the designated pet exercise areas. All pets must be on a sturdy leash no longer than 6 foot long. Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

Service dogs, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, are permitted to accompany visitors with disabilities in all areas open to the public at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Kennel services are not available at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. However, there are kennels and pet boarding facilities in nearby communities. Please do not leave your pet inside your vehicle.

Is WiFi connectivity available?

Because of the remote location of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, there is no public WiFi services at the park. Depending on your cell service provider, coverage may vary. However, a signal is generally available outside the main buildings. Beyond the main visitor areas near the Information Center, Visitor Center and concession buildings, cellular coverage may be spotty.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial Audio Tour Information

Looking at Mount Rushmore through Giant Binoculars

For a small rental fee, you can enjoy to the Mount Rushmore Audio Tour. The Living Memorial is a recorded audio guide at Mount Rushmore National Memorial incorporating narration, music, interviews, sound effects and historic recordings of Gutzon Borglum, Lincoln Borglum, American Indians and workers.

You can also rent the Mount Rushmore Self-Guided Tour: A Living Memorial multimedia unit for an added fee. Listen to the inspiring story about the carving of Mount Rushmore. You can also see photos and video that correspond with the information and read on the screen.

Bringing your RV to Mount Rushmore?

If you’re planning on brining your RV to Mount Rushmore, know that there is no RV parking at the park. Which is reason for finding a campground in the Black Hills so you can enjoy all the adventures in the region.

But, it’s super important to plan ahead so your RVing experience will be less stressful. You surely don’t want to end up on the wrong road with low overheads or roads that aren’t safe for RVs.

Trust me, through our 10 years on the road as full-time RVers, we’ve been there! So, we use RV LIFE Trip Wizard to get us to our favorite camping spots and campgrounds utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to our camper and travel preferences.

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Wrapping Up!

Always On Liberty Lisa Posing in front of Mount Rushmore National Monument
Photo by Always On Liberty©

As you see, Mount Rushmore is more than just the stone carvings of four Presidents. There’s a lot of history, heritage and patriotic spirit wrapped up on this one mountain nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

You can spend as little as 30 minutes to all day and into the night for the closing ceremony to enjoy every essence of this Memorial. 

We highly recommend visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial to not only learn about our great Nation but also to make memories with your family and friends.

Lastly, while you’re in the Black Hills of South Dakota, head on over to Deadwood to experience Tatanka! The Fall of the American Bison.

 

Other National Parks to visit!

Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument – Arizona

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One Reply to “Visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial? Everything You Need to Know!!”

  1. Majestic figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, surrounded by the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota, tell the story of the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country. From the history of the first inhabitants to the diversity of America today, Mount Rushmore brings visitors face to face with the rich heritage we all share. Read More Service dogs are allowed at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Other pets are only allowed in the designated area at the parking structure.

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