Have you ever been driving through South Dakota and think, “These hills would be a perfect place to carve the faces of some remarkable U.S. Presidents”? Yeah, me neither! But luckily for us, Gutzon Borglum and Doane Robinson did have this thought, and now we have a memorial that almost 3 million people visit every year.
I have often hard of people talking about visiting the National Memorial, Mount Rushmore, or for my Friends fans, "Count Rushmore". However, to be honest, it was never somewhere I pictured myself going. I was never one to be super passionate about history, please no history buffs hate that statement, science was more my thing. Yet, when Colin and I talked about adding Mount Rushmore to our AZ to MI road trip, I found myself super excited. I couldn’t help thinking how amazing it would be to see such a famous, well known piece of art and history.
First things first, we had some research to do. Sadly, we couldn’t easily say which four presidents were carved (for anyone else struggling, they are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln). I used the National Park Website in order to learn some of the history and facts surrounding the beautiful sculpture. It was here I learned the names of Borglum and Robinson, and other veracities around Mount Rushmore. I highly suggest reading up on the history and information here online. It will give you an additional sense of wonder while visiting.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Once you head into the park, there will be easy access to parking in a parking garage. It is $10 to park a car; however, the monument is a close walk from there. There is no fee to get into the park, so paying to park was fine by us. We were able to park on the top floor of the parking structure and walk right up to the steps leading to Mount Rushmore.
The visitor center is located right next to the site and full of the usual mementos. There is also an additional visitor center, Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, that holds two theaters displaying a movie about Mount Rushmore. Sadly, we went at a time where this was not open, so we did not get to watch the movies.
We traveled in November. The weather was perfect and not too chilly in jeans and a jacket. The best part, there were very few people around. We were able to observe, walk around, shop and take pictures without anyone getting in our way. I would highly recommend going at this time of the year, if you are just wanting to see the carving. However, with that being said, there is a risk going during the “off season.” If you are looking to create a vacation out of the trip with kids or friends and family, you may want to go during the busier times; late May through mid-August. I would recommend this, because the surrounding area of Mount Rushmore, Key Stone, has a lot of family fun to offer. Go carts, water parks, miniature golf, etc. However, when we visited, these attractions were all closed. We had a hard time even finding a place to eat due to limited options. However, for our visit I still preferred going when there was a limited amount of people. No lines waiting to get in, plenty of parking spots and the moment was more enjoyable.
Mount Rushmore Walkway
While our visit was short, we truly enjoyed getting to visit and would have regretted not fitting this into our adventure. There are also fun snapchat filters to check out when visiting! 😊 For us, there was plenty of opportunity to look, photograph and appreciate.
We would HIGHLY recommend visiting Mount Rushmore. Plus, if you are looking to make more out of your trip, you can take the opportunity to roam through South Dakota. Near Mount Rushmore is Wall Drug, which if you didn’t know already, you would after visiting. As they are not lacking on advertisement by any means. There are also nearby forests, trails and the Crazy Horse Monument is close by. If you are up for a drive, you can also visit Badlands National Park, which is only an hour and a half away.
Wall Drug Store - Wall, South Dakota
Overall, we really enjoyed our visit. It was short and sweet, but we appreciated the history, beauty and serenity of the shrine. Mount Rushmore was a great, late addition to our road trip and will always be remembered.