This is our schedule during our trip to Mouth Rushmore from Minneapolis (start time: 3:30pm friday and returned 7:30pm monday)
Day 1 - Sioux falls
Day 2 - Badlands National Park (Beautiful one - badlands are good), Mount Rushmore in night, Crazy horse memorial
Day 3 - Mount Rushmore in morning, Bear Country USA Safari in Rapid City, Waldrug
Day 4 - Corn Palace Museum (MItchell), Prehistoric Indian village (I do not recommend this as it is in amateur stage and does not worth its $6 ticket)
We later came to know there is an attraction called Cosmos in Rapid city which seemed to be excellent, but we missed to visit. Traffic is very less and excellent. Speed limit in South Dakota of 75mph limit also helps a lot for this long travel.
Fondest memory: When you view from far the memorial is not that great, but near, the view is amazing.
We had been traveling with the America The Beautiful Pass for nearly six months and it had gotten us into about 25 National Parks and Federally Administered Land, no problem. It cost $80 and was good for a year at all of them, for a whole carload of people. Being on a budget, we loved this pass. The catch is it's for admission to the parks and Mount Rushmore does not charge anything to get in. They charge to park and the pass is not good for parking. Sounds like a loophole to me and I really did not see the difference between admission and parking. The Grand Canyon doesn't charge to park and they surely have a bigger parking problem than I imagine Mount Rushmore has.
So, I found myself driving around looking for a vantage point to take a photo from. I was not about to have some stupid loophole keep me from getting a one. They could slow me down maybe, but stop me. That wasn't going to happen, not with a 450mm lens. I finally did find one but it took some very quick camera work to not get into an accident on what really was an empty road in the middle of nowhere. I smartly had the zoom on and reeled off a series in no time and off we sped to Badlands. I might have liked to stay for the night light show but I wasn't going to stick around. Not when they had paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
There's surely more to this park than the carvings of the presidents that make if famous but I have not spent enough time here to discover it. Maybe one day I will but my guess is there are a lot of other parks of more interest to me. If I ever return it will be for the evening lighting ceremony but even that will be clouded by the history of how it all came to be.
Fondest memory: I couldn't stop singing Joni Mitchel while circling around trying to avoid the parking lot the park had put up. I sure couldn't remember a pay-parking lot being here in 1994 when I last visited but then again I didn't remember it being a paradise either. In fact, there was no plan to re-visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial on this 2008 trip. Despite it being impressive, one time had been more than enough for me and my wife, who is from Germany, was not pressed to see it. We had seen so many US National Parks in the past six months and this one was not going to compare favorably to even our least memorable. We were in Colorado and we needed to get to Philadelphia in the relative near future. A great long trip was coming to an end and a straight line would take us through Nebraska, Iowa and still leave me a few brewery-tinged stops in Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh en route. There was just one problem: I really wanted to go to New Glarus Brewing and that was in Wisconsin. I had a few of their amazing fruit beers in 1998 but never made it to the brewery. As chance would have it, we had a friend from Florida who had moved to Orient, South Dakota and wouldn't you know it, that was on the way to New Glarus. That would take us through Badlands and though that was not on our list of National Parks to visit either, my wife was vaguely interested in that. You can't very well go to Badlands and not stop in to see the famous four, now can you? So, we were figuring on doing just that. A very brief stop to snap a shot of the presidents etched on a cliff that has become Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The only problem was, they seemed to be charging $10 to park and I was not about to pay $10 to take a picture of something I had already a perfectly good shot of from 1994. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
The area of the monument is somewhat controversial because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. The Treaty of Fort Laramie from 1868 had previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota -- Although historians believe the Lakota also gained control of the hills by force, displacing the Cheyenne in 1776.
Fondest memory: One of the best viewpoints is located at Grandview Terrace, above the Lincoln Borglum Museum (photo 3). We also walked the Presidential Trail which starts at Grandview Terrace and and goes to the Sculptor's Studio. It provides close-up views of the memorial. These pictures were taken by my son
This monument is special to so many of us in America. As you walk in, you will be greeted this a impressive sight of four great American Presidents up above, but along the walkway is the Avenue of Flags. These 56 flags represent the 50 states, one district,
three territories, and two commonwealths of the United States of America.
They arranged in alphabetical order with the A’s on the walkway near the
concession building and the W’s near the Visitor Center/Museum.
1. Delaware 1787
2. Pennsylvania 1787
3. New Jersey 1787
4. Georgia 1788
5. Connecticut 1788
6. Massachusetts 1788
7. Maryland 1788
8. South Carolina 1788
9. New Hampshire 1788
10. Virginia 1788
11. New York 1788
12. North Carolina 1789
13. Rhode Island 1790
14. Vermont 1791
15. Kentucky 1792
16. Tennessee 1796
17. Ohio 1803
18. Louisiana 1812
19. Indiana 1816
20. Mississippi 1817
21. Illinois 1818
22. Alabama 1819
23. Maine 1820
24. Missouri 1821
25. Arkansas 1836
26. Michigan 1837
27. Florida 1845
28. Texas 1845
29. Iowa 1846
30. Wisconsin 1848
31. California 1850
32. Minnesota 1858
33. Oregon 1859
34. Kansas 1861
35. West Virginia 1863
36. Nevada 1864
37. Nebraska 1867
38. Colorado 1876
39. North Dakota 1889
40. South Dakota 1889
41. Montana 1889
42. Washington 1889
43. Idaho 1890
44. Wyoming 1890
45. Utah 1896
46. Oklahoma 1907
47. New Mexico 1912
48. Arizona 1912
49. Alaska 1959
50. Hawaii 1959
DISTRICTS, COMMONWEALTHS AND TERRITORIES
1. District of Colombia 1790
2. Guam, Territory 1898
3. Puerto Rico, Commonwealth 1898
4. American Samoa, Territory 1900
5. Virgin Islands, Territory 1917
6. Northern Mariana Islands, Commonwealth 1976
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
13000 Hwy 244 Bldg 31 Suite 1
Keystone, SD 57751
Here’s some practical information I hope will be useful for anyone planning a trip to Mount Rushmore:
Entrance to the memorial itself is free, but you have to pay to park your vehicle. When we went (in Sept 2006) the charge for this was $8. This buys you an annual pass so is good for a whole year, although for non-local tourists that isn’t much of a bonus. Also because this isn’t an entrance fee, National Park Passes etc. aren’t accepted.
The car parking area really took me by surprise – it’s a multi-storey facility that would look more at home in a city centre shopping mall than here in rural South Dakota. Be sure to make a mental note of which level your car is on, otherwise you’ll be searching for a while on your return!
The park is open all year, apart from Christmas Day, but not all the facilities and buildings are open in the winter. For instance, the Sculptor’s Studio is only open in the summer whereas the museum is open all year but with reduced winter hours. I suggest if you’re planning an off-season visit you check the website at www.nps.gov/moru/planyourvisit/hours.htm or call ahead (you can get visitor information on a recorded message from 605-574-3171)
Favorite thing: Your approach to the wide overlook is through the so-called Avenue of Flags. There are gift shops, snack bars and a huge dining room between the Avenue of Flags and the Grandview Terrace, which is where most people take their portraits when visiting here. There is wheelchair access to the so-called Presidential Trail which walks to the foot of the monument, but once there you'll find a boardwalk where only amblers can go. You are not allowed to walk upon the monument (as some might imagine from North by Northwest).
This was my first stop while venturing into the Black Hills. It is quite a sight to see. The cost to get in is paid as you are entering the parking garage. It was a little expensive, but you did come here to see this. There is a visitor center with restrooms and a cafeteria. Past this is a broad walkway with flags from all of the states. Then, you get to a large viewing platform with an amphitheater below that. There are short trails in the area that you can take. Be advised that it is not possible to go up to the presidents. That would be a big no-no. The scale and detail is impressive. Be sure to also include the visit to Crazy Horse in your trip to the Black Hills. This is a beautiful area.
Fondest memory: It was nice to view the monument in relative calm. I came in April, therefore it was not crowded at all.
Favorite thing: If you get a good hiking book there is a trail that runs through the monument but is not in the developed area that will give you alternative views of the monument other than that of the main visitor center.
Favorite thing: The Presidents are breathtaking. The new visitors center makes a beautiful view platform. The visitors center tells the story of why and how it was built. There is a big book/souvenier store there. And a place to eat but don't expect cheap. The Avenue of flags are the state flags by date of admission to the union. During the summer it is very busy so expect lines for food and restrooms.
Favorite thing: Inside the pavilion and visitor center, numerous displays detail the work of sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his team of artists from 1927 to 1941. Other displays show the comparative size of Mt Rushmore with famous landmarks around the world. Mt Rushmore was intended to be a full-figured work, but only the lapel of Washington is visible today.
Favorite thing: The Presidential Trail steers alongside the large amphitheater until it foots the huge talus fan at the base of the Memorial. Viewers can walk the length of this raised boardwalk and stop at the few pavilions or elsewhere to gaze at the presidents through a sparse screen of trees. Part of Mount Rushmore's wonder is that only some of the chief executives above are visible at any one spot along the boardwalk. At times Jefferson and Washington might be paired, and at others only Lincoln and Washington are paired. The best part is that the Presidential Trail is the closest you can legally come to the Memorial and the best place to isolate the presidents in your zoom lens.
If you start in the morning, you might see tinges of red dawn on the presidential faces. Throughout the day the effect of sunlight and shadow plays its part on these monumental images of our most important presidents. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum (whose bust survives on the Avenue of Flags) considered these effects at length when planning the memorial. Notice the work on the eyes -- they actually seem to live, to ponder, and sometimes even to sparkle with the humanity and cares and concerns of each individual Chief Executive.
Fondest memory: The numerous effects of light on these sculpted images come to life and change considerably throughout the hours of daylight. When puffy clouds form overhead, which is never rare on the plains, the effect of the overall sculpture is even more magical.
Favorite thing: The Black Hills are dense and rugged forest land covering the entire southwest corner of South Dakota. Virtually all the trees in this Great Plains state are crowded into this relatively small handful of counties. Black bears and mule deer are not uncommon, but you might be surprised to learn that at least eight mountain goats spend some of their summer and fall time within minutes of the memorial.
I have a couple dozen pictures of Mt. Rushmore - some I took, some my husband took and some my son took.
Fondest memory: Walking along the Presidential Trail to the base of the mountain carving.