Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
?
ADA accessible
Yes
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Few words can really do justice to Mount Rushmore. From a physical standpoint, it is one of the largest sculptures on the planet and was one of the grandest artistic undertakings ever attempted when construction commenced in 1927 under the watch of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. On an emotional level, Mount Rushmore is a shrine to four of America's greatest leaders and a testament to their responses to the adversity of the American experiment. The sculpture is technically unfinished, and its construction remains controversial to this day. Nevertheless, one cannot deny that Mount Rushmore is a national treasure, one that will forever be a symbol of the United States.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located in the heart of South Dakota's Black Hills. It is located just outside of the tourist town of Keystone and about a half-hour from either the town of Custer to the southwest or Rapid City to the northeast, the largest city in the region and the only city with an airport nearby. The memorial itself is very well suited for heavy crowds, with two three-story parking garages, a dedicated pickup and drop-off lane, and bus parking areas. The parking garages were privately funded and remain privately operated by Xanterra, which enforces a $10.00 parking permit per vehicle regardless of whether or not one has a national park pass. Besides parking, there is no other entry fee required. The parking permit is good for a year, so visitors staying in the region can come and go as they wish during a trip to the Black Hills. All of the facilities are clad in beautiful granite and are very well maintained.

Inside the memorial, a huge, 300-yard concourse connects the parking area to the Grand View Terrace. The first half passes by the gift shop and information center, operated by the National Park Service, as well as a cafe and ice creamery, which features the original vanilla ice cream recipe from Thomas Jefferson. The second section, dubbed the Avenue of Flags, features the flags of every state and territory of the United States on the way to the Grand View Terrace. Heading left or right here will take one on the Presidential Trail. Heading down the steps will lead to the giant amphitheater and Lincoln Borglum Museum, each among the finest in the National Park System. In the summer, make sure to attend the evening lighting ceremony at the amphitheater—it is an informative, patriotic presentation that lasts about 30 to 45 minutes.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Other

Pros

One of America's grandest and most symbolic man-made landmarks. Exceptional views. Informative museum exhibits. Family friendly.

Cons

Not conducive to long visits. Can be crowded.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

Big vistas
Geologically significant
ADA accessible

Location

Field Guide

Comments

06/01/2013
Every American should visit this place, in my opinion. Quite impressive and inspiring.
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