Mount Rushmore National Memorial – Where Past Presidents Rule the Landscape
Located near Keystone, South Dakota, is the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Originally commissioned as a way of encouraging more visitors to an area where the
local economy needs tourists, the 18m sculpture was started in 1927 and completed in
1947. The memorial depicts facial likenesses of past Presidents George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, and is responsible for
bringing around 2 million visitors to the Dakota area each year.
Although there doesn’t outwardly appear to be much to keep visitors at the area for a
day, be prepared to spend a while there as Mount Rushmore is more than just a
historical carving in the face of a mountain. During the day, take advantage of the
beautiful area to do some hiking or biking. There’s plenty of wildlife in the Black
Hills area to provide photograph opportunities and excite younger members of the
family. If it’s a hot day, cool off a little in the Lincoln Borglum Museum which
shows a 13 minute movie about Mount Rushmore. Afterwards take a stroll along the
Presidential Trail which begins at the Grandview Terrace (above the theatre), which is
one of the best viewing areas of the memorial, and ends at the Sculptor’s Studio.
Here you can learn more about the process involved with creating a memorial on such
a huge scale. If you have children in your party, there’s also a children’s program led
by a ranger which lasts about a half an hour, but they must be accompanied by
Once dusk falls the rangers lead a evening lighting ceremony. This is held in the
amphitheatre and is more information about how the sculpture was created.
Immediately following the presentation, Mount Rushmore is illuminated and remains
lit for two hours.
If you only have a few hours to spend, then try to organize your visit so that you not
only enjoy the memorial in sunlight, but also can experience the magic of seeing the
huge sculpture illuminated against the dark evening sky.