A Roadtripper’s Guide to Mount Rushmore
I enjoy traveling to places that are rich in history. Here in the US, there is no shortage of such places. One of its popular landmarks can be found in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mount Rushmore, a shrine dedicated to four of America’s great Presidents was created to commemorate the “foundation, preservation and continental expansion of the United States.” A masterpiece so colossal that you can even see it in the parking lot! I didn’t think I would enjoy visiting this place so much but it’s uniqueness definitely left a great impression on me.
Interesting facts & figures:
- The sculpture was created by Danish-American sculptor, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers.
- It cost $989, 992.32 to build.
- The faces are 60 ft high. The same size as a six-story building!
- Each eyes of the Presidents are 11 ft wide, each nose are 20 ft high & each mouth is about 18 ft wide.
- It took 14 years to complete this national treasure.
- The estimated erosion rate is 1 inch every 10,000 years.
- There were 0 deaths during the carving.
- Unfortunately, Borglum died before it’s completion. Leaving his son to finish the details of the memorial.
Avenue of Flags:
We took a leisurely stroll through the Avenue of Flags that features 56 flags-representing 50 states, 1 district, 3 territories and 2 commonwealths. Of course, I had to look for the state of Nevada. 🙂
Grand View Terrace:
After passing through the Avenue of Flags, we finally made our way to the Grand View Terrace. This is the best place to get beautiful, panoramic views of the monument which makes it the most crowded area of the park. Good thing we found a spot in the corner where we took pictures without obstruction.
Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center:
This is located below the Grand View Terrace and it houses two theaters, a museum and a bookstore. We saw a film here titled, “Mount Rushmore, The Shrine”. It is a short film that shows how the monument was created. If you’re a history enthusiast like me, then you will definitely appreciate seeing this film.
Aside from the monument itself, I also enjoyed the Presidential trail. An easy 0.5 mile hike, this trail gives you magnificent and close up views of the four Presidents. At one point, we were right at the base of their faces and could see right up their noses lol. We also got a glimpse of a mama and baby mountain goats. So adorable!
We came across this during our short hike in the Presidential trail. This is where Borglum worked from 1939 to 1941. It shows an array of plaster models that you can examine up close. I like how it gave me an idea of Borglum’s vision in creating the monument.
For lunch, we hit up Carver’s Cafe to fuel up for the day. They have a delicious variety of food selections from pot roast to bison burgers; there’s enough to satisfy each guest. But I do have to go back to taste Thomas Jefferson’s original ice cream recipe! It was a bit cold when we went so I didn’t get to try it.
What to try:
- Nightly lighting ceremony from May to September that is held in the park’s outdoor amphitheater.
- Attend the ranger walk or talk and the Sculptor’s studio talk.
- Take an audio tour. (Fees apply)
- Visit the Lakota, Nakota Heritage Village to learn more about the original residents of the area.
Here are some nearby attractions near Mount Rushmore that you can visit during your travel to South Dakota:
- Badlands National Park (I wish we had the time to go here too!)
- Jewel Cave National Monument
- Custer State Park
- Crazy Horse Memorial
- Wind Cave National Park
- Address: 13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD 57751
- Phone number: (605) 574-2523
- Fees: Entrance is free but there is a parking fee of $11.
- Website: Mount Rushmore National Memorial
This is definitely a must-see for the whole family! I wish some people took the time to enjoy the other features of the park instead of just taking pictures of the monument. By learning the history of the place, you can truly appreciate what’s in front of you.