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How to Visit Mount Rushmore – Tips to Plan Your Trip

Located in the breathtakingly beautiful Black Hills, Mount Rushmore National Memorial offers visitors the chance to see a piece of American History that is a true work of art. Whether you are just passing through the Black Hills or knocking this family-friendly destination off your bucket list, these tips will help you make the most of your time in Keystone, South Dakota.

How to Visit Mount Rushmore - Tips to Plan Your Trip Infographic.

Interesting Facts About Mount Rushmore National Park

This colossal carving known as America’s Shrine of Democracy, stands as a rock-solid reminder of our national pride. This testament of growth, determination, and the spirit of our nation depicts the roughly 60-foot-high faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

The sculpture towers 5,500 feet above sea level and can be seen from miles away when the trees of the Black Hills aren’t blocking your view. Hours after leaving Mount Rushmore National Memorial we spotted the larger-than-life faces while taking in the other sights in the Black Hills Forest.

I was happy to get a glimpse of the impressive carving from a different angle and even from a distance, I was impressed by the sheer scale and artistry encapsulated within each chiseled feature.

No wonder the building took fourteen years to complete, lasting from 1927 to 1941.

More Interesting Facts

  • Gutzon Borglum, the man who created the sculpture design, died shortly before its completion in 1941.
  • Mount Rushmore was named after a New York attorney named Charles E. Rushmore, who visited the area in 1885.
  • This monument was initially conceived to feature the presidents from the waist up, but due to funding constraints, only their heads were sculpted.
  • The idea to carve faces into the Black Hills originated from South Dakota historian Doane Robinson, who initially envisioned honoring Western American heroes like Lewis and Clark, but sculptor Gutzon Borglum opted for the four iconic presidents instead.
  • The Black Hills, hold deep spiritual significance for the Lakota Sioux, who consider the area sacred and have fought for its preservation.
Four presidents carved into a mountain.

Take A Tour

To enhance your experience, consider taking a guided tour of Mount Rushmore.

They offer daily ranger-led tours spanning from 15 to 30 minutes, covering subjects like the inception and crafting of this impressive monument.

If a ranger-led excursion isn’t your preference, alternative options include audio or multi-media tours of Mount Rushmore, priced between $6 to $8.

Best Time of Day to Visit

If you are like me and want to plan your trip to the park when there are minimal crowds, engaging events, and extended hours, heading to the park around 7 am would probably be your best bet. Be sure to schedule any events at the park before making your final plan to visit as some tours may not be available early in the day.

If you are interested in visiting Mount Rushmore at night you can experience the nightly illumination of the sculpture. You can even catch the 45-minute program led by park rangers in the outdoor amphitheater. This fascinating program features talks on the presidents, patriotism, and the nation’s history.

Best Time of Year to Visit

Mount Rushmore attracts over two million visitors annually, with peak crowds in June, July, and August. For a quieter experience, consider visiting during the less crowded months of May, September, or October.

If you want to see Mount Rushmore at night with fireworks, you may want to plan your trip for the fourth of July. However keep in mind that South Dakota applies for a special permit in order to put on the fireworks display at Mount Rushmore at night, so be sure to keep up to date with Governor Kristi Noem and the state Department of Tourism for updates on the approval needed.

TLDR: Don’t plan your trip for Independence Day unless you are sure they are going to have fireworks at Mount Rushmore.

Avenue of Flags.

Things to Do At Mount Rushmore

As you approach the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial, you’ll be greeted by the striking Avenue of Flags, adorned with 56 flags symbolizing the diverse unity of the United States—each representing a state, district, territory, or commonwealth.

The Avenue of Flags provides a beautiful pathway leading up to this remarkable piece of American history. It serves as a picturesque backdrop for capturing photos of Mount Rushmore or snapping selfies in front of the memorial.

If you really want to explore the entire place, you can take the trail with 422 stairs that will bring you up close and personal with the mountain sculpture. This concrete and plank walkway brings you through the woods and among the blast fragments, offering the closest viewpoints of these beautiful stone faces. 

While visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial you can visit the sculptor’s studio, and the gift shop to grab a souvenir, all while learning about the park’s history.

With countless vantage points and angles to capture the essence of this historic site, every moment becomes a cherished memory waiting to be captured.

Be sure to bring a camera, dress for selfies, and a fun crew to spend the day with! The admission is per vehicle not per person, so load up your car.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Unique Places to Stay Near Mount Rushmore

Looking for unique lodging near Mount Rushmore? Whether you prefer the rustic charm of covered wagons at Ingalls Homestead, the luxury tents with stunning views at Under Canvas, or the Old West ambiance of Wagons at Rushmore Shadows, there’s something for everyone.

Want to experience nature up close? Yak Ridge offers cozy cabins near area attractions and even provides tours of their nearby farmstead.

For a more upscale experience, consider the elegance of Hotel on Phillips in Sioux Falls or the peaceful sunset views from Valiant Vineyards Winery B&B in Vermillion. With a variety of options for unique places to stay near Mount Rushmore, you are sure to find a home away from home that the whole family will love.

RV Parks Near Mount Rushmore

Looking for RV parks near Mount Rushmore? Rushmore Shadows RV Resort is just a 20-minute drive from the park entrance, offering a convenient location with amenities like a pool, mini golf, and organized tours.

Grizzly Creek Campground offers a rustic experience and is only a mile southeast surrounded by scenic trails and fantastic viewpoints.

Kemp’s Kamp, located 10 minutes north of Mount Rushmore, provides wooded campsites next to Battle Creek, with easy access to nearby attractions and amenities in Keystone. Mystery Mountain Resort, just 20 minutes northeast offers shaded RV sites, fun activities like mini-golf, and a welcoming atmosphere.

If you’re looking for a unique experience, Elk Haven Horse Camp lets you explore the Black Hills on horseback with scenic trails and clean facilities. And Battle Creek Campground, nestled among the Black Hills, offers family-friendly amenities like guided horseback rides and live entertainment, just minutes away.

Whether you prefer proximity, scenery, or outdoor adventure, these RV parks near Mount Rushmore have something for everyone.

entrance in Keystone, South Dakota.

Things To Do Nearby

Looking for things to do near Mount Rushmore besides visiting the monument itself? Here are some exciting options:

  1. Explore Custer State Park. This state park offers excellent hiking trails, scenic drives like Needles Highway, and opportunities to see bison grazing in the grasslands. Check out this list of 31 Things to Do at Custer State Park for more ideas.
  2. Drive through the Black Hills! Discover stagecoach towns, majestic national parks, and other attractions on a scenic road trip through the greater Black Hills area.
  3. Hike around Devil’s Tower. Just two hours northwest of Rushmore, Devils Tower offers fantastic hiking opportunities and breathtaking scenery, including hand- and footholds for climbing enthusiasts.
  4. Hike the Presidential Trail. Take a quiet hike on the short but steep Presidential Trail for better views of Mount Rushmore’s presidential busts and visit the studio of sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
  5. Visit Badlands National Park. Drive Loop Road through the park and hike Notch Trail for striking views of naturally eroded land and vast prairies.
  6. Drive through Bear Country USA. Experience up-close wildlife sightings from the safety of your vehicle at Bear Country USA, a wildlife park in Rapid City featuring bears, cubs, wolves, elk, and more.
  7. Base yourself in Rapid City. Consider staying in Rapid City for proximity to the Black Hills adventures and to explore fun attractions like Dinosaur Park, Storybook Island, and the downtown district.
  8. Visit the iconic Crazy Horse Memorial, a short 16.5-mile drive from Mount Rushmore. Marvel at the world’s largest mountain carving in progress, honoring Native American culture and heritage. Explore the onsite museum and cultural center to learn about the rich history and significance of this monumental tribute.
  9. Embark on a scenic drive along Iron Mountain Road, offering breathtaking views and unique features like the Pigtail Bridges and tunnels carved through granite mountains. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the famous “pigtail” loops and panoramic vistas of the surrounding Black Hills landscape.
  10. You can dine with the presidents at Carver’s Marketplace, South Dakota’s only 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant, or just sample some of Thomas Jefferson’s original ice cream recipe from 1780.
Things to do Near Mount Rushmore.

How Long Does it Take to See Mount Rushmore?

You can see everything this tourist attraction has to offer on a non-busy day in less than an hour but to really take it all in, you will probably need anywhere from 2-3 hours, depending on how interested you are in taking a tour of Mount Rushmore.

How Long of a Trip is Yellowstone National Park to Mount Rushmore?

If you exit Yellowstone National Park by the Mammoth Hot Springs and head into the state of Montana it will take about 8 and a half hours. This is the exact trip my family went on when we visited South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. It allowed us to get a little bit of each state into our road trip and mark several things off of our travel bucket list.

What is the Best Airport for Mount Rushmore?

For those who want to fly in to visit Mount Rushmore, Rapid City Regional Airport offers the quickest access to the Black Hills, Badlands National Park, and Mount Rushmore.

Rapid City Airport is located at 4550 Terminal Rd, Rapid City, SD 57703

More Stops to Add to Your Travel Itinerary

Find out where to stay in Thermopolis Wyoming with pets or without. Plus learn the best things to do while visiting this charming town known for its hot springs.

Explore a scenic mountain town that is located just 90 minutes away from the South entrance of Yellowstone and find out where to stay and what to do in Dubois Wyoming.

When traveling through South Dakota and taking the family to Mount Rushmore, you absolutely have to make a stop at the Badlands. Use this guide to help you plan and learn what to expect from a trip to the Badlands. 

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About Thirty Something Super Mom

Melissa Dixon Thirty Something Super Mom
Thirty Something Super Mom | Website

My journey started after a Crohn's disease diagnosis, inspiring a commitment to well-being. This site shares my distinctive approach to healthy living with my collection of nutritious recipes that boast authentic flavors, mimicking the indulgence of traditional dishes. I love sharing guilt free recipes for low carb, keto, gluten-free, paleo, and the specific carbohydrate diet. I also share tips on natural living, including homemade cleaners and cleaning hacks. I also share my experience as a veterinary technician and pet groomer, to integrate pet health tips, homemade dog food recipes, and grooming insights to ensure your pets thrive.

Sarah

Saturday 18th of January 2020

I have always wanted to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial. I have not gotten to it yet it's on my bucket list.

Heather

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

I would love to visit here and see all the sites. It's on my radar for sure.

Swathi

Tuesday 25th of June 2019

We would like to go to Mount Rushmore as it is important historic place. This summer it is not possible as we planned something else. May be next year. Thanks for great post, I enjoyed reading it.

Catalina

Tuesday 25th of June 2019

I was thinking for a while to visit the Mount Rushmore National Memorial . So glad that I found your post!

Lynndee

Tuesday 25th of June 2019

I sure would love to go there with my husband and son, and see Mt. Rushmore up close. I remember reading about it way back when I was in elementary. Hope we get to explore that part of the country someday.

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