Mount Rushmore

Everything in South Dakota revolves around Mount Rushmore. This is a great national historic site that everyone should visit. We highly recommend planning a road trip to see this American treasure. We have even created this South Dakota Roadtrip adventure list to help!

Mount Rushmore costs $10 for parking. Your National Parks Pass won’t help, you’re in for the $10, but it is totally worth it. After you park, you approach the monument. There is a walkway right up to the front of the monument with each of the flags of the states and territories. It is a surreal experience to see such an iconic monument with your own eyes. You’ll probably spend around 30 minutes taking pictures and staring in awe at the faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. There are a lot of other things to do, too.

You see Mt. Rushmore immediately as you walk into the park.
The flags are so impressive with the monument.

There are two museums at Mount Rushmore. The first is at the Visitor’s Center below ground. There is an elevator that takes you down so you can view a movie and learn more about the monument. There is also a Junior Ranger program for the kids. The second museum is the Artist’s Studio, and it requires a hike. But when you are there you get much more information about how the monument was created and the artist that designed and sculpted it. Make sure to spend time in both of these museums if your health allows you to make the hike.

This is what the monument was envisioned to be.
Did you know there is a Hall of Records behind Lincoln’s head? There are special items kept there.

The hike we’re referring to is the Presidential Trail, which is quite short at 1/2 mile, but requires a climb up some steep stairs. This trail loops right up under the noses of the presidents and allows you to see the famous foursome from many different angles. We also liked learning the reasons that each of these four presidents were chosen to be a part of such a magnificent memorial. Make sure you keep an eye out for mountain goats, too. We didn’t see any, but we’ve heard they are climbing the rocks along this trail sometimes.

This shows the loop hike that you can take at Mount Rushmore National Monument.
There are a lot of stairs, so be prepared. You hike down the stairs to walk the trail, but then you have to climb the stairs back out.
You get some unique perspectives of the monument.
We loved reading about why these four men were chosen.
You walk right below the faces of Mount Rushmore and get a good close look.

Our last recommendation is to buy some Thomas Jefferson ice cream. We learned that Jefferson published the first ice cream recipe in the United States. His ice cream is a nice, rich vanilla, and it was the perfect way to end our half day at Mount Rushmore!

Thomas Jefferson may have written the Declaration of Independence, but I think ice cream was probably the next most important thing he did for America.
The ice cream really was delicious!!



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  1. Sam

    Do you have recommend place for kids to stop by from SLC to Mout Rushmore

    1. Natalie Ockey

      We stayed in Casper on the way up. We stopped at Independence Rock and Martin’s Cove, and then stayed in Casper. The next day we went to Devil’s Tower National Monument on the way to Rapid City. Then we spent a few days in Rapid City doing all of the things in the area, including Mount Rushmore. We were traveling in an RV, so our drives took us a little longer, so there might be a better stopping place, but that’s what we did. Let me know if you have any other questions.