After parking your car (see my General Tip) you walk out of the parking area past an information point and rest rooms, and arrive at the start of the Avenue of Flags. On your right as you face the Avenue is a restaurant and snack shop, on your left a gift shop.
If you head down the Avenue towards the monument itself you’ll arrive on the Grand View terrace which is, as the name suggests, the best place from which to get an view of the four presidents, who look back at you across a small valley and, immediately below you, an amphitheatre. You can get some great photos from here, but if you want to get closer take the Presidential Trail which leads you past the foot of the mountain (see my separate tip on this).
Below the terrace (and reached by elevator) is the museum which has lots of exhibits about the carving of the mountain and the four presidents themselves. There’s also a great selection of books, plus more rest rooms, an information desk and water fountains.
You might also like to visit the Sculptor’s Studio which shows some of the tools and models used in construction and runs sculpture workshops.
Although you can get a great view of the monument without going beyond the main viewing area, a walk on this ½ mile loop path will take you much closer. If you set off from the left hand side of the Grand View Terrace (as you face the mountain) you’ll find that the first part, which takes you to the base of the mountain below the face of George Washington, is flat - but beyond that there are a quite a lot of steps so this isn’t suitable for anyone with walking difficulties. This second part leads you below the other three faces and back to the terrace via the Sculptor’s Studio.
The United States formally authorized the construction of a national monument to Great American leaders in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1941. In the interpretative center at the base of the monument, a series of displays tells the story of the idea and realization of the Rushmore figures, an account that makes clear that a lot of the "success" of the monument is due to the energy, determination, and resolution of the indomitable Danish-american, Gutzon Borglum. His name certainly isn't widely known, but his accomplishment is an important American icon.
An important American icon, whether you like it or not. And if you read some of the history of the way in which Mount Rushmore was created, you might not like it very much. Actually, the interpretative center at the base of the monument doesn't really tell the full story: there was a lot of manipulation and political connivery in the way in which the land here was expropriated from the Native Americans to whom it originally had been dedicated. Usually, the National Park Service in the USA does a fairly good job of telling the full story of a place, but I thought that the displays here were overly political. I think that for a lot of Americans, Mount Rushmore is "sacred," and criticism of the place or the way in which it was created is tremendously unwelcome.
For more information, pick up "Mount Rushmore: An Icon Reconsidered" by Jesse Larner.
The four most famous guys in rock
This epic sculpture features the faces of four exalted American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. South Dakota's Black Hills provide the backdrop for Mount Rushmore, the world's greatest mountain carving. These 60-foot high faces, 500 feet up, look out over a setting of pine, spruce, birch, and aspen in the clear western air.
Sculptor Gutzon Borglum began drilling into the 5,725-foot mountain in 1927. Creation of the Shrine of Democracy took 14 years and cost a mere
$1 million, though it's now deemed priceless.
The Avenue of Flags leads from the Concession Building to the Grandview Terrace. The flags of the 56 states and territories fly below the memorial. Here, the avenue provides direct and easy access to the Grandview Terrace and Presidential Trail, a half-mile walking trail that offers spectacular views of the mountain sculpture.
The memorial offers interpretive programs, exhibits and a film at the Lincoln Borglum Museum. Rangers provide interpretive walks and talks, including the Evening Sculpture Lighting Ceremony. The lighting program takes place at approximately 9 p.m. nightly (May-September) in the park's amphitheater. The amphitheater is fully accessible via the Avenue of Flags to elevators at the museum.
$8.00 - Annual
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Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest sculpture, now in progress, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota on US Highway 16/385 just 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore. The work was begun in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski at the request of Native Americans. Korczak died in 1982. His wife Ruth and their family continue the project working with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
The Memorial includes the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Cultural Center which was dedicated at the 1996 Native American Day Celebration, the sculptor’s studio, as well as a new 40,000 square foot Orientation Center and theaters opened in May of 2000. Many Native American artists and crafts people create their artwork and visit with guests at the Memorial during the summer season.
Regular family admission fees
$9.00 - Adults - Under 6-years of age - FREE
$20.00 - Carload (whichever is better for you)
$8.00 a person - Under 6-years of age - FREE
$18.00 a carload (whichever is better for you)
$4.00 a rider
$3.00 per person - Bus rides to bottom of mountain
(Provided by another company, weather and blast
schedule permitting, children under 6 free)
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If you have a chance to stop by for the lighting of the monument, it is a nice way to see it. Only downside is it can be hard to take a good picture. My recommendation for a lighted pic is to us a graduated ND filter to compensate for the light differential. Didn't have one at the time so my pictures of the lighted monument don't look good.
There is a walking tour around the site that takes you below the heads. is is the closes you can get to the mounument. It is called the Presidental tour. It takes about an hour to walk at a good rate of travel.
Superb museum, offering a collection of art and objects reflecting the diverse histories cand cultures of the American Indian people.
We visited Mt.Rushmore Memorial Park on in September. It was very hot, but the Presidents' Sculptures are amazing - They are not as big as I expected, but beautiful and alive.
Take half a day a drive or hike around the forest surrounding Mt. Rushmore. There is nice scenery and some wildlife also.
on the road to mt rushmore parking there is a nice lookout on the road (like a half a mile from the entrance)
from this point u can see the faces from the side - its a nice spot