Visiting Mount Rushmore

Take a hike on the presidential trail or simply marvel at the breath-taking 60-foot sculptor. Travel further afield for the interesting Devils Tower in Wyoming

 

Located in Keystone, South Dakota, the park is a great chance to understand more of the US’ history and development.

The memorial offers a breath-taking view of the country’s four past presidents carved into granite at a height of 60-feet.

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Led by the sculptor Gutzon Borglum, work on the project began in 1927 and was completed in 1941. Over that time period, some 400 workers erected the sculpture under dangerous conditions, removing a total of 450,000 tons of rock.

 Getting there

Car: Visitors coming from the south, follow Highway 385 north to Highway 244, which is the road leading to the memorial.

If arriving from the east, use exit 61 off I-90 and the follow the signs.

If coming from the west, take exit 57 exit at Rapid City and follow US Highway 16 southwest to Keystone and then Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore.

Travelling by car on I-90 should exit at Rapid City and follow US Highway 16 southwest to Keystone and then Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore.

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Flying: Rapid City Regional Airport is located 35 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial on Highway 44.

Public Transportation: There is currently no public transportation options available.

GPs: The postal street address (13000 Highway 244, Keystone, South Dakota) for Mount Rushmore National Memorial does not register in many navigation systems. Instead, try using the ‘points of interest’ setting ‘Mt Rushmore National Memorial’ or enter Keystone, SD 57751 on the system. This is the closest town and is 3 miles from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

 Entrance fees:

There is no entrance cost for Mount Rushmore National Memorial but fees apply for the car park.

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Cars, motorcycles and RVs cost $10 per vehicle.

Opening hours:

Weather permitting, the grounds at Mount Rushmore are open every day of the year, except 25 December.

The standard hours operating hours for the car park and the memorial grounds are Mon-Sun 5.00am – 11.00pm.

The Visitor Centre and Information Centre are open from June to mid-August from 8.00am – 10.00pm. From mid-August to 30 September, the hours are 8.00am – 9.00pm. From 1 October through May, hours are 8.00am – 5.00pm.

Overnight parking is not permitted within the boundaries of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

TIP: Check out the Mount Rushmore illumination which starts approximately 9.15pm and ends 11.00pm.

 Note: All times listed are Mountain Time.

 What to see and do:

TIP: There are free ranger talks offered each day throughout the summer that last 30. Schedules are posted at the information centre.

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 See the figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, surrounded by the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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From left to right, the presidents are as follows:

George Washington – first president who led the colonists in the American Revolutionary War to win independence from the UK.

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Thomas Jefferson – third president who was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.

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Theodore Roosevelt – 26th president who was instrumental in negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal, linking the east and the west.

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Abraham Lincoln – 16th president who opposed slavery.

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Artist and sculptor Gutzon Borglum selected these four presidents because from his perspective, they represented the most important events in the history of the US. He believed that Washington represented the birth of the US; Jefferson represented the country’s growth; Roosevelt represented the US’ development; and Lincoln represented the US’ preservation.

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TIP: Directly under the Grand View Terrace is the Lincoln Borglum Victor Centre, which offers exhibits on the carving. It’s open 8.00am – 5.00pm in the winter and until 10.00pm in the summer.

 TIP: The busiest months are June, July and August. To avoid the crowds, May, September and October are less busy.

The Carvers’ Café is the only dining facility in the park and serves a variety of foods.

There is also the Memorial Team Ice Cream Shop and a gift shop.

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The Presidential Trail is a 0.6 mile-long loop that includes 422 stairs and is a great way to get up close and personal with the mountain sculpture.

Labelled as ‘easy’, the trail meanders through the pines and near the blasting rubble left from workers carved the mountain decades ago.

 Where to stay:

Camping: Camping is not available within the boundaries of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

However, information about camping in the Black Hills is available the South Dakota Tourism, which offers campground listings throughout South Dakota.

Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association provides information on camping in the Black Hills area.

The Black Hills National Forest has 30 campgrounds available.

Hotels: Comfort Suites Hotel & Convention Center is a great hotel on the edge of Rapid City. With spacious rooms and a great breakfast it is a great place to start your journey to Mount Rushmore. Rapid City, South Dakota, (24 miles from the memorial grounds).

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TIP: If you do stay at the Comfort Suites Hotel & Convention Center, don’t miss the wonderful buffalo sculpture outside Dakotah Steakhouse.

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Hotels are available near the grounds, such as in Keystone, South Dakota (3 miles from Mount Rushmore) and Hill City, South Dakota (approximately 13 miles from Mount Rushmore).

Further afield is Custer, South Dakota, (20 miles from Mount Rushmore).

What to see nearby:

Devils Tower

Take a trip away from the monument to see the intriguing Devils Tower, which is a 2.5-hour drive.

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To get there, travel west on Interstate 90 to Sundance, Wyoming and then travel onto Highway 14 north to Highway 24.

The tower is a geologic feature protruding the prairie surrounding the Black Hills and is considered sacred by Northern Plains Indians and indigenous people.

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Due to the tower’s hundreds of parallel cracks, it is one of North America’s most crack climbing sites.

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Devils Tower National Monument is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the visitor centre and the Devils Tower Natural History Association bookstore have varying seasonal operating hours.

The Belle Fourche River Campground is open May – Octobers and offers a 2-loop, 46-site camping area. Drinking water is available at water spigots and in the restrooms and a picnic shelter and tables are available north of the campground. The site doesn’t take reservations and operates under a first come, first serve basis.

Weather permitting, the hiking trails are open year-round.

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Entrance fees are as follows: $25.00 for a single vehicle for a 1-7 day pass. An induvial pass when entering on foot costs $15.00 for a 1-7 day pass.

 Badlands

Alternatively, for something closer, the Badlands National Park is 1.5 hours from Mount Rushmore.

To get there, take Interstate 90 east towards Wall, South Dakota and take exit 110 or 130.

The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs.

The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Ben Reifel Visitor Centre is open 8.00am – 4.00pm (Winter), 8.00am – 5.00pm (April & May)

7.00am – 7.00pm (Summer) and 8.00am – 5.00m (early September to late October).

A private vehicle costs $25 and is valid for 7 days.

The park offers free entrance for days including Martin Luther King Jr Day and Veterans Day.

Checking out C & J

 

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