Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the most jaw-dropping man-made sculptures in the United States. Located in South Dakota’s Black Hills, Mount Rushmore’s massive 60′ granite sculptures depicting four of our U.S. Presidents. But there’s more to Mount Rushmore than just marveling at this incredible man-made wonder!
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.
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Mount Rushmore National Memorial – South Dakota
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.
What’s to see and do at Mount Rushmore?
As you enter through the corridors leading to the the most grand entrance, you’ll feel an incredible sense of pride and patriotism!
Here you will find information about the Memorial as well as the the local area. Mount Rushmore’s 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.
Avenue of Flags
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.
Grand View Terrace
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!’.
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.
Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center
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.
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.
Get some fresh air and exercise by walking the Presidential Trail. It’s a little over a half mile long and, weather permitting, entails 422 stairs to climb through the wooded wilderness.
While enjoying your hike, you may even get to see some wildlife. We were treated to a rare glimpse of a mountain goat.
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.
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.
Youth Exploration Area
For those who bring their families, this is the perfect interactive venue for kids of all ages to explore the natural, cultural and historical aspects of Mount Rushmore. This program is located along the first sections of the Presidential Trail. Open 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. daily early June through early August.
Junior Ranger Program
If you have the kids with you, get them involved with the National Park Junior Ranger Program. They will learn everything about Mount Rushmore on their level of understanding. Your Junior Rangers can pick up their 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.
Dining at Mount Rushmore
After earning your appetite from climbing those 422 steps on the Presidential Trail, head back to the Carvers’ Café for some vittles. And reward your kids of all ages, big and small, with some ice cream at the Ice Cream Shop.
Shopping and Souvenirs
There’s a fantastic gift shop near the cafe and ice cream shop. You can pick up everything from t-shirts, inexpensive souvenirs to lavish gifts to remember your Mount Rushmore National Memorial experience.
If you can stay until closing, I highly encourage you and your family take part in this inspirational program in the amphitheater. If you’ve not felt a patriotic pull yet, it’s about to get you to notice.
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 screen which ends with the nightly lighting of the Memorial.
But, the most heartfelt is at the end of the program. I won’t spoil it for you however, if you’re a Military Veteran, this is your time to stand and be saluted. You’ll 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 peace time or war.
This nightly program is held only from late May until the end of September. Be aware, this particular program is weather dependent.
About the Presidents of Mount Rushmore National Memorial
George Washington was 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 was 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 was 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 was 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.
Planning your visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial
How to get to Mount Rushmore
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?
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 information page.
What weather should be expected?
- 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
What are Mount Rushmore’s 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.
What are the entrance fees to Mount Rushmore National Memorial?
There are no entrance fees to the actual Memorial.
However, there is a required $10 parking fee for private passenger vehicles which are valid for one year from date of purchase. Seniors age 62 and older parking fee is $5, while Active Duty Military parking is free of charge. Parking fees may be paid with cash, Mastercard or Visa credit card or traveler’s check.
Important to note though, National Park Annual Pass, Active Duty Military Pass, Senior Pass, Disabled Access Pass and Every Kid In A Park Pass holders are not exempt from paying the parking fee.
And speaking of parking, extra long vehicles and trailer parking is almost nonexistent. There is no overnight parking at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and its parking lots. So, you’ll need to park your RV elsewhere.
Is Mount Rushmore National Memorial is ADA compliant?
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is wheelchair 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.
Is there WiFi connectivity available?
Be aware, there is no public WiFi services at Mount Rushmore. 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 is very spotty.
Is there a Mount Rushmore National Memorial audio tour?
For a $6 rental fee, you can listen 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 less than $10. You’ll be able to listen to the inspiring story about the carving of Mount Rushmore. You can also see photos and video that correspond with the information you can listen to and read on the screen.
Your Mount Rushmore takeaway
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.
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