The Journey to Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The Black Hills of South Dakota
Photo © Ted Sakshaug, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Every year, millions of people visit one of the most iconic of our American National Parks. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the carved granite faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt gaze south over the Great Plains of the Midwest. The sight is awe-inspiring and brings a twinge of pride and patriotism to those who visit.

There is much to learn and experience while exploring the grounds of Mount Rushmore. Visit the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center & Museum and trace the timeline of the founding, growth, and preservation of our country. Enjoy the film presentations on wildlife and park ecology, and listen to Ranger talks and watch films about the mountain-carving process. There are many fascinating facts to absorb. (For example, did you know that while all of the faces are 60 feet tall, George Washington’s nose is a foot longer than everyone else’s?) Make sure to enjoy gourmet ice cream and superlative coffee on the terrace of the Carver’s Café.

There is clearly much to do and see once you arrive at Mount Rushmore, but how you approach the monument can be an important part of the journey as well. Set the stage for an incredible Black Hills experience and take the scenic route. Iron Mountain Road (US 16A) begins at the northeastern corner of Custer State Park and winds its way over the hills and through the pines. As the road curves and climbs, a tunnel, blasted through the mountain, appears. Framed by the arch are the four sculpted faces of our most revered presidents. From this distance, the mountain carving stands out—alone and majestic on a granite peak in the beautiful Black Hills.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Photo © David Jones, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

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