Mount Rushmore National Memorial – A day trip in South Dakota, USA

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA

When I was looking at my journey through the US I saw that my route would take me near to Mount Rushmore National Memorial so I decided to make sure that my route passed through Rapid City so that I could rent a car to go see the famous site.  I mainly knew it from films and knew no history about it before I went but decided I had to see the famous monument for myself.

Mount Rushmore is in the Black Hills of South Dakota and was authorised by the United States Congress on 3 March 1925 as a memorial to the history of America.  The carving of the faces started in 1927 and took 14 years to complete.  It cost just under $1m.  The presidents are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt & Abraham Lincoln.  Each face is 60 feet tall (or a 6 floor building) with each eye 11 feet wide, though when you are there they don’t look as big as you expect!!

Gutzon Borglum the sculptor made plaster copies of the models at a ratio of 1:12  with one inch being one foot on the mountain, so that it was easy to transfer the measurements across.  They used dynamite to get within inches of the measurements and then the rest was carved by hand.  You can see Borglum’s original model at the sculptors studio on the presidential walk.

Mount Rushmore is located 25 miles from Rapid City so after I had picked up the rental car I drove straight to Mount Rushmore.  There is no entrance fee for the memorial but you have to pay $10 for parking!

Once I was parked up I walked up to the entrance and as I was walking along the avenue of flags I got my first glimpse of the presidents.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA

It’s an amazing sight, though they did actually look smaller than I thought they would!!

I carried on walking till I reached the grand view terrace, where you have an uninterrupted view.  This is also where the amphitheater is and where on a summer’s night you can watch the evening’s lighting ceremony.  Unfortunately I was unable to see as I was planning on being at the Crazy Horse Memorial to see their light ceremony.

On the lower level is the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center where you can watch a film about the history of the memorial and how it was created.  Very interesting and worth a watch if you have time.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA

From here I decided to do the Presidential Trail, its only half a mile so not a very long trail and takes you nearer the base of the mountain.  There are a lot of steps though on this trail, especially as you walk around to the sculptors studio.  Well worth the effort though.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA

From left to right you can see, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA

Abraham Lincoln

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA

George Washington

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA

After this I headed back to the cafe on site and tried the Thomas Jefferson Ice Cream, which is created using a recipe written by Thomas Jefferson himself!!  Ice cream became popular in the US after he started serving it in the president’s house in Washington between 1801 and 1809!

I then made my way to Custer State Park enjoying the views of the Black Hills National Forest, with the occasional glimpse of the presidents.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA

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47 thoughts on “Mount Rushmore National Memorial – A day trip in South Dakota, USA

  1. Never ever dreamed of visiting Mount Rushmore but the idea of a presidential trail does sound exciting. I also like the historical background you shared about the destination. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Fantastic photos! Defitinely have to visit Mount Rushmore, it’s been on my bucket list for years! I have just moved to the states, so I can visit more places on road trips! yay! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. How interesting!! I live in the US and have seen 100 photos here but had no idea that there’s a one mile walk/hike that you can do while there. That makes me want to go way more! Thanks for sharing

  4. I can’t believe it is twenty years since I visited this place. The thing I remember the most from that day is the scorching heat in the desert. Everything was fine inside the car, but when we left the air-conditioned space the heat knocked us to the ground. Great post about Mount Rushmore. It is a cool monument 🙂

  5. There is space on those cliffs for a Donald Trump figure isn’t there! I think I arrived here at sunrise and the parking was free at that time. I’m impressed with your photos you got some unique angles. I didn’t know about the walk, I wish I had done as I could have got some pics from those unique angles!

  6. 14 years to complete? Didn’t know that it’s such a long-term project (and quite an investment too)! It’s definitely a must-see road-trip destination. Will be really cool to see the evening’s lighting ceremony in the summer!

  7. I am soon visiting USA and frankly Mount Rushmore wasn’t on my agenda. But after reading your post I guess I should rethink. Presidential trail looks so exciting to hike. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Every time I read about Mount Rushmore’s National Memorial, I can’t believe the work behind carving the presidents in the mountain. I bet it would be cool to see it first hand even though it is smaller than expected. Neat fact about ice-cream becoming popular after Thomas Jefferson served it in the White House.

  9. I’ve heard from others too that the presidents look smaller than you’d expect. Maybe it’s just because they are set so high up that they give the impression of being larger in photos. I hope to visit one day soon!

  10. I’m dying to do a road trip through South Dakota, and Mount Rushmore is definitely on my list. I love that fact about Jefferson and the ice cream. What type of ice cream was it?

  11. I have always wanted to visit Mount Rushmore and wondered how you go about getting there. A road trip through South Dakota sounds like the perfect way. I always picture them to be really big but I am not surprised that they are smaller than you thought. I remember thinking the same thing about the white house. Thanks about the parking fee too, it is not too often people tell you that cost.

  12. I’ve always wanted to go and see Mount Rushmore in person its one of those places you gotta check out. Seems like you had a great time.

  13. I would so love to see Mount Rushmore up close, your pictures are incredible, and this is such a useful guide to getting there and seeing it. I bet it looks so different in person than it does on the films and TV

  14. Really informative post! We’re actually doing a road trip around the USA in summer, and Mount Rushmore was on the list, after seeing these pictures I cannot wait to visit! The walk sounds challenging but that’s what I love, thanks for that tip too!

  15. This is such a famous place – yes, I admit, mainly from the movies – and I hope I’ll visit it one day. Nothing compares to seeing it up close, I’m guessing. Lovely photos!

  16. I love your pictures! Since I saw this place in the movie, I’ve been dreaming of visiting there. It’s a bit fun to know that it looks smaller in real life. Save your tips and will visit Mount Rushmore in the future!

  17. I have always been curious in seeing this monument after seeing it in a couple of movies. It’s amazing that the monument is well-maintained. Great photos of the views and the tunnel!

  18. You’re lucky! I wanted to visit Mount Rushmore when I lived in the US, and was planning to stay in Rapid City and see some more places in that part of the country before heading back to the south (I lived in Florida). Never made it there, though. It looks impressive, so I sure missed out!

  19. I’ve seen so many pictures of Mount Rushmore but I’ve never actually seen any zoomed in ones like that. The detail in that Abraham Lincoln is kind of crazy! His eyes! I definitely want to do a US road trip and see things like this.

  20. I love anything that is carved out of rock, especially profiles of people. This monument is world famous and i remember reading about it when i was at school all those years ago. Ive still notmanaged tovisit but maybe one day if i make it to the states again 🙂

  21. I wonder why they didn’t carry on further with later Presidents? Maybe they ran out of space! Was it over-crowded with tourists or was there space to wander?

    • I think that the plan was only ever 4, as they felt they had contributed the most at that time. There weren’t many tourists there but then I was there in september.

  22. Thanks for making me take a second look. Your photos are great, giving new perspectives not typically shown. Sounds like an interesting side trip on a journey across America.

  23. The same than you, I always remember to see it on tv but to be honest never knew what it really means and the story behind it. Thanks for sharing it, interesting. 14 years to complete it is a lot but it is an amazing piece of art.

  24. I’ve been to the Mt Rushmore NM, and I was surprised to see how small it is! Borglum was working on a similar, but bigger project here in Stone Mountain (Atlanta) when he decided to move on with his life, moved to South Dakota, and completed the Mt. Rushmore instead. Stone Mountain is about 3 times larger than Mt. Rushmore!

    Thanks for sharing – I hope to be able to revisit S. Dakota again soon, especially to see how far they have been progressing with the Crazy Horse.

  25. Really can’t help but find Mount Rushmore impressive. The feat of humanity. Your photographs are beautiful by the way. I have never seen it photographed from that angle and so close-up

  26. I haven’t been to Mt. Rushmore before, but I’ve heard it’s kind of anticlimactic. It’s cool that you were able to see it and it sounds like you enjoyed your time! I did not know that little tidbit about ice cream though! I would have been pretty pumped to try his recipe 🙂

    • Its not as big as you expect and there isn’t too much to do there, but its worth seeing if you are in the area 🙂

  27. Thank you for the detailed post on Mt. Rushmore. It’s one of those things that’s always been my bucket list to visit but I haven’t managed to get to SD yet. How long did you spend in SD?

  28. What an impressive site, this is sth I would like to see by myself. Like you, I did not know about the site’s story so thanks! By the way, what is the flavor of T. Jefferson ice cream?

  29. Mount Rushmore has always been near the top of my bucket-list, though I’m not sure if I’ll be disappointed when I get there. That being said, this post will help me to envision how to get there, and how to best approach it! Thanks a ton!

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