Mount Rushmore is a revered landmark in the United States, and you can plan more things to do in Mount Rushmore. It’s more than just a massive carving of the country’s four presidents. It serves as a reminder of some of the most crucial moments in American history. Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor, had particular reasons for selecting the four men he did. In the United States, Washington shows the birth of the nation, Jefferson shows the country’s expansion, Roosevelt shows the country’s development, and Lincoln shows the preservation of the Union.
Among the many things to do at Mount Rushmore, learning about the decisions made by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and how the memorial was carved are just a few. Do not forget that you can find the best things to do near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, when you plan this journey.
The average time spent at Mount Rushmore is one to three hours, but you might easily spend more time there if you go slowly. We recommend staying at the Black Hills for three days, so you have enough time to experience the three driving loops and the city of Rapid City. Nevertheless, even if you only have a couple of days to spare, you can still pull this off.
Mount Rushmore’s popular months in September and October, with April and May as close seconds. While the Black Hills might be damp and cold in the spring, the dry weather patterns in the fall make a picnic in the area an excellent choice for travelers.
Plan your journey in Mount Rushmore
History of Mount Rushmore
A South Dakota historian proposed a Black Hills mountain carving in 1923. Borglum, who had been working on a carving on Stone Mountain in Georgia, responded. According to conflicts with the organizers, his work has been stopped.
According to federal and state authorities, Mount Rushmore National Memorial was approved in the Black Hills in 1925. Drilling was underway in 1927 after a few years of preparations. Nearly eight months after Borglum’s death in 1941, Borglum drilled the last holes at the site. The memorial was supervised by his son, who was in charge of the finishing touches.
Things to do in Mount Rushmore
01 Make Your Arrival Before Sunrise
Preferably, get up early to catch sight of the president’s smiling features lit up by early morning sunlight. At sunrise, Mount Rushmore is bathed in a golden light. If you can, get to the memorial before sunrise so you may picture it during the golden hour when there are no shadows, and a lovely crimson aura appears, followed by a dazzling orange glow. You can see the four presidents during a spectacular sunrise as the sun begins to rise over the Washington Monument. Later arrivals will only notice a granite stone color with lots of shadows.
02 Enjoy the Grand View Terrace
There’s no escaping the 50 state flags adorning either side of the walkway leading to the Grand View Terrace as you enter the central plaza. With this website, the patriotism of Mount Rushmore National Monument is set. Parkgoers can enjoy spectacular views of the sculpture from numerous locations. However, the Grand View Terrace got its name because it offers a spectacular view of the park. Park should include this stroll and vantage point in any trip to the park.
03 Visit the Sculptor’s Studio
A second sculpting studio for Gutzon Borglum, who designed and sculpted Mount Rushmore on-site, was established initially there. Building the National Monument took 14 years, from 1927 to 1941, with Lincoln Borglum’s son serving as an assistant sculptor during that time. Many models and construction tools used to plan and build Mount Rushmore are on display in the studio for those who want to learn more about its history. When you see the sculpture and the model side by side, it’s pretty interesting. To save money, Borglum had to reduce the size of the statue by only carving the heads.
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04 Walk the Presidential Trail
One of our favorite Mount Rushmore activities is taking a hike, as we do in any national park. While there aren’t many trekking options, there are enough to get your heart rate up and your legs moving! A short Nature Trail can reach the Sculptor’s Studio. There is a slight slope and a few stairs, but almost anyone can make the trip down and back up. The anti-clockwise approach is up to get a better look at the presidents’ faces, then down to the theater. Choose the counterclockwise route and finish at Sculptor’s Studio as an alternative.
While the central plaza and Grand View Terrace offer spectacular views of Mount Rushmore, the Presidential Trail provides a unique perspective. To get to the Memorial from the Sculptor’s Studio, use this 0.6-mile walk across the front lawn and back to the central plaza. The Presidential Trail has a total of 422 steps. Landings are frequent, so you may take a rest when you need one. The Grand View Terrace provides access to the mountain’s base for visitors with disabilities.
05 Three-Hour tour in Mount Rushmore
Three hours is more than enough time to take in the vistas from Mount Rushmore, stroll the trail, and see the educational exhibits if everything is open. Choose to go between May and September. You may see a nighttime lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center Amphitheater.
06 Evening Lighting Ceremony & Amphitheater
Whether you time your visit for the evening, the evening program is well worth your time. Remember, the parking fee allows entry for up to a year. With this, you can quickly return later in the day or even on a different day for the evening ceremony. In addition to some general information about the carving and the park, the evening ceremony includes the singing of the National Anthem and a Flag Ceremony. The park invites veterans and active-duty military to participate in the flag ceremony.
When it recently snowed and melted, it left the presidents’ faces damp as if they were all moaning about the cold. In the freshly restored amphitheater, which has hundreds of seats, the nightly light displays in the summer will have a fantastic ambiance.
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07 Visit the Rushmore Gift Shop to Purchase a Memento
A trip to a national park would be incomplete if you didn’t bring home a memento of your experience! It’s a magnet for Grant. There is a large gift shop at Mount Rushmore where you can buy books, jewelry, t-shirts, stuffed animals, and several other souvenirs.
Access to Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore can be approached via Iron Mountain Road if you’re feeling adventurous. It connects Custer State Park on the south to Mount Rushmore on the north along this magnificent route. It has so many turns that traveling 17 miles will take you about an hour. Other than that, there is a slew of viewpoints to choose from.
The one-lane tunnels and wooded pigtail bridges of Iron Mountain Road provide a beautiful background for the monument’s profile for those heading toward Mount Rushmore. This area’s landscape is very spectacular. Many beautiful roads go to the site, including Iron Mountain Road. As you approach Mount Rushmore on Iron Mountain Road, you’ll see one-lane tunnels and wooden pigtail bridges that frame the monument wonderfully. In addition, the Black Hills’ natural beauty is unsurpassed. Iron Mountain Road is one of a plethora of stunning routes in the vicinity.
Many winding and picturesque routes lead through the Back Hills. Road warnings are essential if you’re driving or towing an RV or other large vehicle. Don’t worry, the park has multiple routes that are accessible to all kinds of cars. In addition, pets aren’t allowed in the garden; however, service dogs are permitted. If you’re taking a pet along, make sure to account for this.
Note: Three one-lane tunnels prevent large trucks from passing through. The narrowest tunnel is 10′ 9′′ in height and breadth, so do not undertake this journey if you cannot comply.
Things to do near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
- Custer State Park
- Black Elk Peak Hike
- Badlands National Park
- Crazy Horse MEMORIAL
- Wind Cave National Park
- Sylvan Lake
- Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
- Spearfish Canyon
- Devils Tower National Monument
- Wildlife Loop
- Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway & Needles Highway
- Mammoth Site
- Jewel Cave National Monument
- Bear Butte State Park
- Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway
Take only memories, leave only Footprints