During our two-week trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota, we did what all tourists do and visited Mount Rushmore.
We weren’t sure what to expect traffic-wise as it was in the middle of July and peak tourist season, so we left our RV park early to make sure we got there when they opened. There was already a line of cars waiting for the gates to open, but once they opened the line moved quickly. At the time my husband was active-duty military so parking for us was free which was a nice bonus. Note: They now use pay for parking machines and no longer have ticket booths upon entering.
There is no entrance fee for this National Park, so you will walk right in through the entrance pergola.
Avenue of Flags
The Avenue of Flags was created in 1976 in response to a visitor’s request as part of the United States Bicentennial celebrations. The 56 flags represent the United States of America’s 50 states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths.
The flags are organized alphabetically on the walkway near the concession building, with the A’s near the concession building and the W’s near the Grand View Terrace. On the plaques right beneath each flag, the names of each state, district, commonwealth, or territory are listed.
Grand View Terrace
Our first order of business once we got to Mount Rushmore was to get a family photo in front of the presidential faces at the Grand View Terrace. We had two teenagers in tow and trying to get a good photo with teenagers has to be worse than trying to get one with toddlers, hence the back of their heads.
Once we got our family “picture”, we headed down to the presidential trail which is 0.6/mile long and makes a loop back to the visitors center. There are over 400 steps along this trail, so that is something to keep in mind.
The trail goes to the base of Mount Rushmore before jetting back out and leading to the Sculptor’s Studio.
As you reach the base of Mount Rushmore, you begin to realize just how large each head is. I took this picture beneath President Washington’s head and immediately felt like I was being judged, lol.
View the 1/12th scale model of Mount Rushmore at the location where Guzton Borglum worked from 1939 to 1941. During the summer, rangers provide 15-minute briefings here about the laborers that assisted Borglum in the creation of Mount Rushmore, as well as the tools and techniques they utilized. Weather and personnel levels permitting, the Sculptor’s Studio is open each year from late May through the middle of October.
Hall of Records
Yes, it’s real! Behind the monument, artist Gutzon Borglum envisioned a Hall of Records however, it was never finished. While it is not open to the public, the National Park Service has made several photos available. The entrance is 11 feet wide and 18 feet tall, while the main room is approximately 35 feet high and 75 feet in length.
Gutzon Borglum vision for the Hall of Records
Sculptor Gutzon Borglum envisioned brass and glass cases holding major historical documents such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in the recesses of this hall. There were also plans to have busts of renowned Americans in the hall, as well as a list of the United States’ contributions to the globe in science, industry, and the arts.
Cast glass doors would open into a taller room, which would be 20 feet high by 14 feet wide. Above the entryway would be a bronze eagle with a wingspread of 38 feet. “America’s Onward March” and “The Hall of Records” would be written over the eagle.
- These four presidents were chosen by Gutzon Borglum because, in his opinion, they represented the most significant events in American history.
- Over 2 million people visit Mount Rushmore every year.
- The first actual carving took place on October 4, 1927.
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial was declared a completed project on October 31, 1941.
- Workers had to climb 700 stairs to clock in every day and earned about $8.00 per day.
- 90% of the carving was done using dynamite.
- Not one fatality occurred during the 14 years it took to carve Mount Rushmore.
- The head of George Washington is 60 feet tall with a nose that is 21 feet tall. Each of the eyes are 11 feet wide and the mouths are roughly 18 feet wide.
Know Before You Go
Drones are not allowed
Smoking is only allowed within the parking area
Firearms are not allowed within certain buildings of the park, so make sure to check for signs before entering buildings
Pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet and are only permitted in the parking garages and the areas adjacent to them.
Mount Rushmore Information
13000 Highway 244
Building 31, Suite 1
Keystone, SD 57751
For the most part, the park is open from 5 am-9 pm daily. Make sure to check the hours before going for any changes.
No Entrance Fee
Parking: $10 per car, Free for Active Duty Military
Have you been to Mount Rushmore? What was your favorite part of your visit? Comment below and let me know!