Visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial

by ilive4travel

Published on Jun 9, 2024

When I was looking at my journey through the US I saw from my route that I would be visiting South Dakota so I decided to make sure that my route passed through Rapid City so that I could spend some time visiting Mount Rushmore.  

I think that most people have heard of Mount Rushmore and for me, I mainly knew it from films and knew no history about it before I went. I decided I had to see the famous monument for myself and I think many people feel the same way as me.

It is pretty amazing to see four heads carved into the side of the mountain and to think of all the hard work that went into making this monument.

lots of columns with flags on them, at the end is a mountain with 4 faces carved into it, you can see the details of the hair and a beard and moustache, before the faces going down the hill of the mountain is a rock field and in amongst the rocks you can see trees growing

When is the Best time to visit Mount Rushmore

The best time of year weather wise to visit Mount Rushmore is between May and October. The winters in South Dakota can be very cold with snow, though there are very few visitors, making it a unique experience.

In summer it is hot and the summer months have the most number of visitors to the park, but if you visit in summer you will be able to visit the sculptors studio and see the evening lighting ceremony.

a woman with a white tshirt stood in front of a mountain with 4 faces carved into it, below it is a scree field, with lots of rocks and a few trees growing in it, around the mountain and up the mountain are also a lot of trees

Things to do at Mount Rushmore

Mt Rushmore is a great place to visit with many things to do on your trip, whether you plan to visit for an hour or half a day. There are hikes that you can do, videos to watch, exhibitions to see, ranger talks to listen to and in summer, a ceremony to watch as the lights are switched on, on the mountain.

a view from below a mountain with 4 heads of people carved into the top of the mountain, you can see the details on their faces, below this there is a scree field of rock and a few trees in amongst the rocks
From left to right, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Mount Rushmore Facts

The history of Mount Rushmore is very interesting and if you are interested, it is something that you can learn a lot about during your trip to the memorial. There are exhibitions, films to watch, rangers talks and books in the gift shop.

10 Facts about Mount Rushmore

a close up of a face carved into a mountain through some trees, you can see the details of the lips, nose, eyes and his hair
Abraham Lincoln

Things to do near Mount Rushmore

The area of the Blackhills where Mount Rushmore is located, is a stunning area and an area you need to make sure that you explore while you are in the area. Don’t just make it a quick trip to see Mount Rushmore, but extend your stay to have a few more days or a week to explore this area.

a face carved into a mountain from right below it, you can see his lips, nose and eyes and the rock looks like it has been polished.

Where to stay when visiting Mount Rushmore

In the Blackhills of South Dakota you will find many places to stay, hotels and cozy bed and breakfasts in cute little towns. The closest town to Mount Rushmore is Keystone located just 3 miles from the monument, with hotels, restaurants and a few shops.

a tunnel that has been built through a rock that blocks a road, it is a perfect square shape, there are trees and bushes growing around the huge rock

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you go inside Mount Rushmore?

No you cannot go inside the heads carved in the mountain and they are carved into the mountain. Originally Gutzon Borglum planned to have a chamber behind the face of Abraham Lincoln that would house information about why the monument was build and american history from 1776 to 1906.

In fact a 70 foot tunnel was actually built but in 1939 congress decided to stop the funding for this project, nowadays the tunnel still exists but it is not open to the public.

Can you see Mount Rushmore from the parking lot?

No you cannot see Mount Rushmore from the parking lot, but once you walk up to the entrance and walk along the avenue of flags you get your first glimpse of the presidents monuments South Dakota.

Do I need to pay to see Mount Rushmore?

It is possible to see Mount Rushmore from the road, you can see while you are driving along the Iron Mountain Road, and as you enter one of the tunnels you will be able to see Mount Rushmore in the distance.

You can also see the profile of George Washington on highway 244 and there is a place to pull in and park up to get your pictures.

Also as you are driving up highway 244 from the east towards Mount Rushmore, you will find a few places that you can pull over and see a view of Mount Rushmore.


Save this post for later.

a pin created by ilive4travel about visiting mount rushmore, showing 4 heads carved into the rock of a mountain


——-  About me ——-

girl sat on some wooden stairs wearing a black jumper

Clare from Ilive4travel

Hi my name is Clare and welcome to ilive4travel.  I am originally from the UK but spend most of my time in Peru, the country that caught my heart.

I have visited 73 countries and love to share with you everything I have learnt about these countries in my guides.

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  1. Paulina

    Wow I d love to see Mount Rushmore. It seems so legendary. And the pics are really inviting

  2. Suzanne

    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!

  3. charlie

    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 🙂

  4. Christie Sultemeier

    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

  5. Torgeir Lindland

    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 🙂

  6. Only By Land

    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!

  7. Cat

    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!

  8. Archana Singh

    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.

  9. Riely

    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.

  10. Diana - MVMT Blog

    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!

  11. Erica Coffman

    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?

    • ilive4travel

      There were so many flavours to choose from!! I just had the original vanilla one 🙂

      • Erica Coffman

        Mmmm vanilla is my favorite! Good choice 😉

  12. melbtravel

    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.

  13. Andrea Broom

    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.

  14. Samantha Sparrow

    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

  15. luxurybackpacking | Emma

    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!

  16. Lori

    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!

  17. Ha @ Expatolife

    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!

  18. Jen

    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!

  19. Kristine

    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!

  20. Kate Storm

    One of our most bizarre national monuments, in my opinion! Looks like a great day trip.

  21. The Spirited Sloth

    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.

  22. Dave (Silverbackpacker)

    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 🙂

  23. Els Mahieu

    I guess it’s one of those things you just “have to do” when you’re in the area. 🙂 I’d probably be more impressed by the surrounding nature! 🙂

  24. Denzil

    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?

    • ilive4travel

      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.

  25. Promise Chika Maxwell

    Mount Rushmore National Memorial it’s quite an interesting place to visit with lots of history. Never knew about the ice-cream history by Thomas Jefferson. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Yana

    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.

  27. Fábio Inácio

    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.

  28. Halef

    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.

    • ilive4travel

      I went to Crazy Horse too, I can’t believe how big that one is compared. Blog post coming on that soon 🙂

  29. Katharina

    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

  30. Gokul Raj

    Those heads….magnificent sculptures. I have seen pics if this location many times but had no idea where they are. Now I know 🙂

  31. Danijela WorldGlimpses

    It always makes me think of the cover of Deep Purple’ album! 😀 Love this landmark, it truly is a fine monument to the country. Nice photos too. Thanks for sharing!

  32. Brianna

    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 🙂

    • ilive4travel

      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 🙂

  33. Rebecca

    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?

    • ilive4travel

      I spent nearly a week in South Dakota seeing different places and staying with friends. Had a great time 🙂

  34. Kerri

    I’ve seen those faces before but had no idea they were here. Great read about a place I didn’t know anything about.

  35. Elisa

    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?

    • ilive4travel

      You can get any flavour you want, though the original is vanilla.

  36. Greg

    Can you do any hiking up to the heads? That would be really fun!

    • ilive4travel

      No you can’t hike anywhere near the heads, the presidents trail is as near as you can get.

  37. Christopher James Mitchell

    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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