Visiting Mount Rushmore

Visiting Mount Rushmore In South Dakota

This year, Mount Rushmore National Memorial turns 75! The memorial, a symbol of American freedom, is a must-see and a great reason to visit South Dakota.


The iconic memorial that has the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota (SD). At the time of my visit, I was living in Denver, Colorado. I wanted to spend a weekend away and SD was a perfect destination since it was only a few hours away. I packed up Betsy and started the five and a half hour drive. The trip up to SD went smoothly (unlike the road trip from hell I would have just two months later) and I got to see some picturesque scenery as well as my first wild buffalo.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore

Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore


After spending the night in a small motel in Hot Springs, we arrived at Mount Rushmore at around 8 a.m. What’s really cool is that you can start to see George Washington as you drive up the road to the memorial.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore

Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore


Even though we were there early, there were already a few people walking around inside. It never felt crowded though. We walked straight through the Avenue of Flags (which represents all 56 U.S. states and territories) and on to the Grand View Terrace.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore

Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore

Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore


There are also some trails that you can walk on to get different angles of the monument. Oh, and as much as I looked, I did not see either Nicolas Cage or any sign of The Lost City of Gold…


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore


After we got our fill with the four presidents, we stepped into the small museum which explains how and why the memorial was built. We learned a lot of interesting things and thought we’d share some of our favorites…


10 Facts You Might Not Know About Mount Rushmore

  1. The idea for a sculpture in the Black Hills was suggested in 1923, the first drilling and carving of the mountain began in 1927, and the final drilling took place in 1941.
  2. Nearly 400 men and women helped to build the memorial in one way or another.
  3. Every day, workers climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch-in on the time clock.
  4. Although 90% of the mountain was carved using dynamite, not one person died during the 14 years of construction.
  5. Mountain goats are often seen around the monument. These are not native to the area; they were a gift from Canada to a nearby park. The mountain goats escaped, headed north, and took up residence on the mountain.
  6. The faces of Mount Rushmore are 60 feet high.
  7. Originally, the figures where supposed to be carved from the waist up but plans changed due to lack of funding.
  8. There is a small room carved into the mountain behind Lincoln’s head. It is inaccessible to visitors, but it holds records of how and why Mount Rushmore was carved.
  9. In 1935, Eleanor Roosevelt and congresswoman Caroline O’Day proposed that Susan B. Anthony also be carved into the mountain. After two years of campaigning, Congress dropped the bill.
  10. Censors have been placed all over the sculpture to detect any kind of movement (even a movement of less than 0.0001 inches) in order to quickly identify any potential issues.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore


We thought visiting the monument was really cool and would encourage anyone in the area to do so as well. If you are planning a trip, here are a few helpful tips:

  • – The park itself opens up at 5 a.m. in case you want to catch an awesome sunrise. The Visitor Center opens at 8 a.m. daily and closes at 5 p.m. from October to May, 10 p.m. from May to August, and 9 p.m. from August to September. The only day they are closed is December 25th.
  • – There is no entrance fee to enter Mount Rushmore. However, there is a parking fee of $10 for private vehicles.
  • – Keep in mind that the sculptures look different depending on the time of day. We hear that it’s pretty amazing to see them lit up at night too.
  • – Unless you’re planning on going on any of the nearby trails, you can wear whatever shoes you feel comfortable in. We would recommend sneakers/boots for the trails though.
  • – On site is Carvers Café, which has a pretty big selection of food (we had a buffalo burger). The best thing about the cafe, however, is the awesome view of the monument.
  • – Don’t bother bringing your drone; they can’t be flown in any National Park.
  • – When you’re finished at Mount Rushmore, don’t rush off! There are a lot of cool attractions nearby like the National Presidential Wax Museum, Wind Cave National Park, and the Mammoth Site.


Oh, and just a quick side note… The National Park Service is also celebrating a birthday! It turned 100 on August 25, 2016. They are celebrating all year long so make sure you get out there and #findyourpark.


Mount Rushmore

13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD 57751

(605) 574-2523


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Buddy The Traveling Monkey Mount Rushmore


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  1. Great post, love the photos you took. I saw it in one of those articles about overrating tourists places and they posted it as a very small and ugly rock but you proved them wrong! I really wanted to see it on my road trip in America but I couldn’t make it!!

    1. I guess there will always be places that some consider overrated, but I think it’s definitely a cool place to see at least once. Thanks for the comment and I hope you’re able to see it on your next road trip!

  2. I’ve been to Mt. Rushmore a couple of times and I enjoyed each time. Very worthwhile stop.

    1. I think it’s great that you can go back more than once and still enjoy it so much. I’d love to go back and see it in the evening because the time of day and shadows can really change how the faces look.

  3. Mount Rushmore is such an awesome sight. Would love to get there someday`. In the meantime was able to visit virtually through your post, which is very informative and useful.

  4. This is so funny (uncanny) because I was just visiting a friend this morning who has just returned from Mt. Rushmore. She absolutely loved it and talked about seeing the home where the man lived who sculpted the faces. She mentioned he made nine different small-scale models before deciding on the one he liked best! I can’t even imagine the vision that went into creating this monument. She also said that all the people who worked on it considered it much more than a job–it really became their mission and their passion. Someday, I want to visit it for myself!

    1. Oh I know! The amount of passion and dedication that it took was just amazing!

  5. Last summer, my husband and I traveled from Ohio to Oregon and we stayed at a KOA a few minutes from Mt. Rushmore. We drove by the monument in the morning and I was able to get a glimpse of the monument and take a photo, but I really wish we’d taken the time to stop. It’s on my list if I make it back out. Maybe we can dine at Carver’s Cafe for a buffalo burger.

    1. I think you’d really enjoy the monument and the cafe Tonya. Hopefully you’ll be able to make it back out there.

  6. Mount Rushmore is still near the top of my list for things to visit in the United States. I am a bit surprised that it has only been around for 75 years – guess I need to pick up a book on the history of the monument!

    1. It really does have an interesting history John. I hope you’re able to visit soon!

  7. It would definitely be cool to see them lit up at night! Doesn’t look like there were tons of tourists in your way either which is always nice.

    1. The viewing platform is a great place to take pictures from. Even if it’s pretty crowded you can still get some nice shots of the monument. 🙂

  8. I’ve never heard of a national monument opening up that early for sunrise, what a wonderful gesture. It’s be over 30 years since I visited, I need to go back again!

    1. I’m not sure I would get up that early (lol!) but it’s good to know that the option is available. 😉

  9. Great job taking me in-depth into a place I have heard about all my life. Sooner or later, we will see Mt Rushmore, until then, your post helps me know what is out there.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Jenn and I hope you’re able to see it for yourself one day! 🙂

  10. I’ve always longed to visit Mount Rushmore for multiple reasons. Mainly due to the uniqueness and history in American culture. I had no idea that it was turning 75 this year. In some ways it feels like it would be older than that, and in others younger. I hope that this is a monument that is preserved for decades and centuries to come!

    1. I honestly thought it was older as well. And they are doing a lot of preservation work on it, so hopefully it is around for a long long time!

  11. Okay, this is interesting! I’ve always only seen photos or footage of the Monument – which is understandable because it’s the main focus – but not of the areas surrounding it. Didn’t know that it’s this picturesque!

    1. The area around the monument is quite lovely! Perfect for hiking. 🙂

  12. This is a great article. I’ve been to Mout Rushmore and it is quite impressive. However, I did not know there was a proposal to include Susan B. Anthony. Great facts to this spectacular momument.

  13. 700 stairs to punch in?! Now that’s a way to get to work! Mount Rushmore looks amazing – definitely need to take a trip there.

  14. I can’t believe it’s the 75th already and I’ve never been there. It really looks like such an awesome place in the pictures, I can only imagine it’s a million times better in person.

  15. I have always wanted to visit Mount Rushmore! It’s such a quirky and bizarre landmark.

    1. It’s a really cool place Mags, I think you’d really like it. 🙂

  16. Incredible work in making of those sculptures! I have read enough… high time I make it there. The mountain goats there definitely must be adding charm to the place.

    1. Haha! Yes, the monument and the goats are definitely worth seeing! 😀

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