Visiting The Mount Rushmore National Memorial In South Dakota
- Date Visited: September 4, 2020
- Address: 13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD 57751
- GPS: 43.8791, -103.45906
- Phone: (605) 574-2523
- Hours: 5 AM-11 PM Daily
- Price: $10 Per Vehicle
- Pets: No
Lets start with a few facts and statistics on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial:
- It was established on March 3, 1925.
- Construction started on October 4, 1927.
- The presidents’ faces were completed between 1934 and 1939.
- Construction ended on October 31, 1941
- Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are the four presidents represented.
- Each sculpture is 60 feet tall.
- The memorial was designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
- The memorial park covers 1,278 acres.
- The memorial sits 5,725 feet above sea level.
- It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
- The memorial gets more than 2 million visitors annually.
Mount Rushmore is located in Keystone, South Dakota and is open every day from 5 AM-11 PM. On October 1st through early March their hours are 5 AM-9 PM. They do close at 9 PM on multiple holidays and the information center, visitor center, gift shop and Carvers’ Cafe is closed on Christmas Day.
Though it’s free to visit the memorial they do charge $10 for parking. Park your vehicle then head to the memorial and buy a pass from the machine at the memorial entrance, then turn in the pass when you exit.
The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center is open every day except Christmas. It is open most days from 8 AM-10 PM. From October 1st through May though, it does close at 5 PM. It is located below the Grand View Terrace and is an exceptional visitor center that should not be missed.
Get any questions you may have answered at the informational desk and be sure to check out the small bookstore. If you like watching park films don’t miss the one offered here.
The visitor center has a number of incredible museum quality and interactive exhibits on the history and building of the memorial. There are so many exhibits to check out be sure in give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes to explore the center.
The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center is truly one of the best we have seen and we loved it.
Visit the Sculptor’s Studio to see where Guzton Borglum worked on the memorial from 1939 to 1941. You will get to view the original 1/12th scale plaster model used in the creation of Mount Rushmore. The Sculptor’s Studio is usually open each year from late May to the middle of October.
Throughout the day you will have the opportunity to listen to a 15-minute talk about the memorial led by a ranger. Learn about Borglum and hear stories about the workers who built these enormous sculptures. A schedule for the beginning of each talk is posted at the Information Center and Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center.
Our talk lasted a bit longer than 15 minutes, but it was very informative and we enjoyed it immensely.
On your way to the base of Mount Rushmore you get to walk through the Avenue of Flags. It began as part of the celebration of the United States’ Bicentennial in 1976, but is now a permanent attraction at the memorial.
The 56 flags are arranged in alphabetical order representing the 50 states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths of the United States of America. Listed on a pillar below each flag is the name of the state, district, commonwealth or territory it represents.
Walking through the Avenue of Flags as they’re blowing in the wind is pretty cool. Be sure to take a selfie with your state flag before leaving for a great little memory.
If you are physically able and have the time I highly recommend hiking the 0.6 mile Presidential Trail. There are a total of 422 stairs and it’s usually closed in the winter. The trail goes right under Mount Rushmore and gives you an up close and personal experience with the memorial.
Multiple viewing decks give you access to a number of different views of the memorial. You get to see each presidential sculpture from a different angle and sometimes these larger than life faces seem close enough to touch.
Along the trail informational plaques gives history on each president represented in the memorial.
As you meander through the pines on the trail and check out the various viewpoints you also get to see the massive amounts of granite rubble left behind by the workers while building. The entire hike is cool and it’s pretty easy as well, if you can handle all those steps.
The Evening Lighting Ceremony is held nightly from late May through the end of September in the outdoor amphitheater. Apparently the program begins with a ranger talk, followed by the film Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy and ending with the lighting of the memorial.
We visited during the day so we didn’t get to see this ceremony, but I know some people who have and they said it was pretty spectacular. Maybe we will hit up the memorial at night on our next visit to the state.
During your visit you may purchase an audio tour or self-guided tour to enhance your experience. A Junior Ranger Quest is also available for the kids to participate in. Learn more about these resources here.
The town of Keystone is located just minutes away from the memorial and offers tons of shopping and eating opportunities. They also have a lot of fun activities to participate in.
I think visiting the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is just one of those things you do if you can. It’s an amazing attraction providing a wealth of information and an incredible experience.