Mt. Rushmore

What trip to South Dakota would be complete without a trip to Mt. Rushmore. Mt. Rushmore is located in Keystone, South Dakota about 30 minutes from Rapid City and it took me about an hour to get there from Deadwood. It is also very close to Custer State park but I didn’t have time to go hit that park on this trip but a good day could be Rushmore and then Custer. The memorial itself is free but there is a $10 dollar parking charge.

Currently a great deal of the Rushmore park is under construction and visitors can’t get too close to the monument unless they want to take a bit of a walk. From the visitor center main area there is still a really nice view.

 wide shot of the 4 president faces carved into Mount Rushmore.  There is a small row of pine trees lining the base of the mountain.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed at my first sight of the monument from the road. You can see it as you are about a quarter mile from the park and it looks kind of small and not that impressive but as you get to the park and come a little closer it really is an impressive sight. The four ex-presidents, Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson are very well detailed and to think this was started in 1927! No modern laser measurements or tools. That is still the most impressive part to me. The park was sculpted by a team that was led by Gutzon Borglum and his son.

A bronze bust of Gutzon Borglum who was the chief designer of Mount Rushmore.  The pedestal of the statue says that it was sculpted by his son, Lincoln Borglum

They used chisels and jackhammers and dynamite over the course of 14 years and was finally completed in 1941. As someone who is completely terrified of heights, I couldn’t imagine being suspended by ropes or on small platforms hammering away at the rockface.

With the park being mostly closed for construction there was only one way to get a little closer to the monument. To the east side of the parking complex there is a nature trail that takes you past the Sculpter studio and to a path that is paved and has stairs along it. There are quite a few stairs to climb as you move closer and closer to the monument itself but it does provide for a closer view where you can really see the detail.

A view of the 4 presidents of Mount Rushmore from closer up and underneath.  The foreground is of a rocky hill topped with trees that leads to carvings.

As the gift shop and information area’s were closed for the virus and a large section of the park was closed for construction, I only spent about an hour total at the park and most of that was just walking the nature trail to get closer. I did see the giant engine used to power the construction but the sculpter studio was closed. The mountain is impressive but there is only so much to look at. I would recommend seeing this once if you find yourself if South Dakota. If you plan a whole trip to see it you may have some time on your hands at least until the construction is finished. The surrounding area has plenty to do as well but I would recommend that Rushmore is an off shoot or pass through stop as opposed to a destination. Here are some more shots of the mountain and the nature trail leading up to to the closer area.

Well that just about wraps up my stops in South Dakota. What an amazing area. From Deadwood, to the Black Hills National Forest and Roughlock Falls to the Friendship tower and Mount Rushmore, there was a ton to do in this little corner of the world and I really enjoyed my time and can’t wait to head back soon.

If you have a suggestion for a hike that you would like me to try, feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or you can follow me on the below social media platforms. I have also added this hike and all the hikes to the interactive map that you can find here.

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