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South Dakota's Mount Rushmore National Memorial - An Overview

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Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

View more images at the Mount Rushmore photo gallery.

© dean.franklin via Flickr

Contact Info:

13000 Hwy 244 Bldg 31 Suite 1, Keystone, SD 57751

605-574-2523

Overview:

Located in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Monument was established in 1925 and commemorates the first 150 years of the history of the United States. Stunning carvings of former United States Presidents were carved into the Black Hills. Today, the monument serves as more than a work of art, but as a symbol of freedom and hope for people of all cultures.

History:

Known as the "Father of Mount Rushmore," Doane Robinson had an idea for a colossal carving in the Black Hills. His goal was to create an attraction that would draw people from all over the country to the state of South Dakota. In August, 1924 he contacted Gutzon Borglum, an American sculptor and artist, who was working at Stone Mountain, GA on the face of Robert E. Lee. In a letter, Robinson invited Borglum to visit South Dakota and discuss the possibility of carving a mountain.

Read more about the history of Mount Rushmore.

The heads of former United States Presidents were sculpted between 1927 and 1941 by Borglum and 400 workers. The Presidents featured are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Those presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory.

When to Visit:

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open every day of the year, except for December 25. Check online for specific visitor center, shop, and cafe operating hours. January and February are usually the coldest months so if you plan a winter visit, dress warm! If you are looking for the most comfortable time to visit, try September or October.

Getting There:

The closest airport is Rapid City Regional Airport and is located 35 miles away from the memorial. (Find Flights) Drivers traveling on I-90 should exit at Rapid City, follow Highway 16 southwest to Keystone, and then Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore. Visitors coming from the south should follow Highway 385 north to Highway 244, which will lead directly to the memorial.

Fees/Permits:

There is no admission fee to the park, only a parking fee. The parking fee is $10 for an annual pass, which includes cars, motorcycles, and RV's, and $50 for a commercial bus.

Major Attractions:

The colossal sculptures of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt are the main attraction here but there are plenty of things to do besides stare at the mountains.

Ranger Walk: Take a 30-minute tour along the first half of the Presidential Trail to the base of the mountain carving with a park ranger. Your guide will highlight the natural and cultural history of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.

Sculptor's Studio Talk: Got 15 minutes? Learn about the tools and techniques used in carving the mountain sculpture.

Evening Program: A park ranger will lead a presentation on the presidents and the nation's history in the park's outdoor Amphitheater for a program. A film - Freedom: America's Lasting Legacy - is also shown just before the memorial is lit. The program begins at 9 p.m. from May 23 until August 14 and at 8 p.m. from August 15 through September 30.

Sculpture Workshops: Free sculpture workshops are offered on the Borglum View Terrace by Mount Rushmore's artist in residence for one week.

Kids' Exploration Area: Bring the kids to explore the natural, cultural and historic aspects of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.

Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Heritage Village: Located along the first section of the Presidential Trail, this area highlights the traditions of local American Indian communities.

Audio Tour: Visitors can rent an audio tour to hear the story of Mount Rushmore through music, narration, interviews, historic recordings and sound effects while walking a scenic route around the park.

Accomodations:

There are no accommodations inside the monument but there are plenty of place to stay outside of Mount Rushmore. Motels, lodging and places to stay while vacationing at Mt. Rushmore can easily be found online. Mount Rushmore Washington Inn is a great place to stay and can be reached at 605-666-5070. For a less expensive overnight, try the Travelodge Keystone (605-666-4638). (Get Rates)

Areas of Interest Outside the Memorial:

Badlands National Park: Located only 1.5 hours from Mount Rushmore, this national park has been called a stage set due to its colorful, dramatic, and giant barrier of pinnacles. It is a great destination for hiking, nigh walks, fossil demonstrations, and wildlife watching. The park is open year-round but snowstorms are frequent in the winter. Call 605-433-5361 for more information.

Wind Cave National Park: The park lies between mixed-grass prairie of the Great Plains and forests of the Black Hills. Because of it's location, Wind Cave is home to an array of wildlife. It's also home to a spectacular labyrinth - one of the world's longest caves. Activities include hiking, biking, campfire talks, cave tours, and wildlife watching. Call 605-745-4600 for more information.

Devils Tower National Monument: Only 2.5 hours away from Mount Rushmore is this 1347 acre park. Also known as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site for many American Indians. Visitors will be sure to spot deer, prairie dogs, and other wildlife. Other activities include rock climbing, hiking, interpretive talks, and wildlife spotting.

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