Mount Rushmore

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42° - March
50° - April
61° - May
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79° - July
77° - August
67° - September
55° - October
41° - November
34° - December
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Best Known For


When considering your next vacation, ask yourself what George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln would tell you to do. They'd all tell you to hop the next flight to Mount Rushmore. National parks and historical memorials abound in Keystone, South Dakota, the most famous of all being Mount Rushmore itself. 500 feet up with 60 foot faces, Mount Rushmore is almost impossible to comprehend until you've seen it for yourself. Nearby Keystone, South Dakota serves the millions of tourists who flock to Mount Rushmore each year. Although the town is almost equally difficult to comprehend--with only about 300 residents, you and your family will be in for a once in a lifetime experience.
Photo Credit: Ranger Ed Menard
Photo Credit: Ranger Ed Menard

I grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota!

Growing up in Rapid City, SoDak, was a wonderful experience. I moved there in 1976, when there were far less people and far more nature. I spent a LOT of time carousing and exploring the Black Hills, and specifically the areas around Mt. Rushmore. To this day, I still miss the ever-present aroma of the Ponderosa Pines and the scent of history found there.

The monument is in the Black Hills National Forest, and is a grand attempt to immortalize the four presidents, forever set in stone. It is a magnificent display and one can hardly comprehend what it took to make the enormous faces appear out of the granite structure. You must watch the free movie that details the tremendous efforts the sculptors endeavored. You can also see this monument featured in Alfred Hitchcock's brilliant 1959 movie, North by Northwest. Crazy Horse monument, much like Mount Rushmore, highlights the Sioux Indian Chief and is another excellent sculpture that emerges from the natural stone!

Be sure to bring extra money, or have the bank raise your spending limit on your cards because everything in the cafeteria and gift shop is priced for the tourist, and luckily you can buy almost everything imaginable here. If there's something you couldn't find, for sure you can discover it in Keystone, the tiny tourist town/trap, located a few miles away from the base of the national monument. Souvenirs, food, helicopter tours, museums, and shops are easy to get lost in, and you'll need an extra suitcase for all of the kitsch you'll be taking home.

The best times to go are after Labor Day Weekend; a) when the weather has switched to cooler days and perfect nights, and b) when the tourist season has subsided, making your vacation less crowded, accommodations easier (and less expensive) to find, and before Memorial Weekend when the tourist season cranks back up for the swing of summer.

Aside from the story and stone, there is so much more to see in the Black Hills. My personal favorites are: Pactola Dam & Reservoir, the largest reservoir in the hills, which has a marina, campgrounds, and is handicap accessible in some areas. Boating and fishing are popular. Spearfish Canyon, home to Bridal Veil Falls, is spectacular and is best seen in the fall months, when the foliage makes for amazing eye candy around every winding bend. I also highly recommend Custer State Park, which is also a wildlife reserve hosting free roaming bison, elk, mountain goats, antelope, big-horn sheep, prairie dogs, several varieties of deer, and countless other species including fascinating birds, reptiles, fish, and insects, many of which have been re-introduced after they'd been eliminated by gold seekers in the late 1800's. Plan ahead if you'd like to stay in the cabins, as they're booked almost a full season in advance.

There are 11 stunning reservoirs just perfect for fishing & boating, 30 campgrounds mixed for RVs all the way down to simple tents, 2 scenic byways which you should drive in both directions to see both views, over 13,000 acres of wilderness, over 350 miles of hiking trails, and it's all equally beautiful year round!

If you fly to this destination, be sure to rent a car and take a day trip to The Badlands National Park, as well. This geological wonder is situated approximately an hour to the east of the Black Hills, but is equally amazing in its own way. It is the erosional little sister to the Grand Canyon. Mountains, buttes and bluffs, spires and plateaus all of eroded stone. The paleontological history is immense, and you can find digs in the nearby area that include fossils of dinosaurs, mammoths, and sea creatures and shells from an ancient sea that traversed the plains.

South Dakota is known for the first fully excavated Tyrannosaurus Rex, which tours the US but can also be found at the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City. Mammoth Site, in Hot Springs, is a fully functioning dig site, and the Petrified Forest near Elk Creek, is where you can witness ancient trees that have turned to stone.

Rapid City, Deadwood, Lead, Hot Springs, Custer, and Sturgis, which is known for its annual motorcycle rally, are just a few of the towns found near Mt. Rushmore. I encourage you to spend 'at least' a solid week exploring. You'll discover a wide range of historical profundities, while making your own travel history.

PS If you're this close (and if you've rented a car) drive over to Wyoming to see Devil's Tower, which is filled with folklore and was the main geological feature in the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.


A beautiful city that is a must for seasoned travelers

Mount Rushmore is a simple city. There is probably not many reasons you would tour this state without the objective of going here. What's interesting about this place is how recent the history of our country is. This monument is not some far-away concepts of men from history books but relatively just a few years ago in history that it was deemed complete. The monument itself looks like there is still much to do but lends to the feel of important that they carved into the cliffs in the first place. Near by is a second monument paying homage to American Indian history that should not be overlooked.

The mountainous city that rests near the base of Mount Rushmore is reminiscent of the more popular Gatlinburg, TN. There are looming forests surrounding log-built boutique shops and restaurants catering to tourism. While you can rent cabins, this spot may be best seen through the screens of a tent where you can hear the rustle of the pines and scamper of little creatures nearby. Plenty of state-run resources for outdoor enjoyment. If you are traveling within the US try by motorcycle for a scenic route or RV for a family-fun experience.
Mt. Rushmore is a must-see historical monument. It was a nice hike, the guides were very informative, but I still can't get the smell of those butterscotch pines out of my nostrils!!
While you are there, Crazy Horse is also an interesting place to visit.
Mount Rushmore is an incredible site. Very family friendly.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

It took 14 years to complete and stands next to the Statue of Liberty and the American Flag as one of America's most inspiring symbols of democracy.
Cost: No entrance fee, but parking is $11 per vehicle.
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Bear Country

Black bear, elk, cougars, and buffalo from your car. A three-mile drive through 250 forested acres past rolling meadows, pools, coves, and trees. Get a close look at cubs and wolf pups at the Wildlife Center.
Cost: Adult $15, senior $10, child $8, child under 4 free
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1880 Train

A 2-1/4 hour round trip through the scenic Black Hills through the hills between Hill City and Keystone and back again.
Cost: Rount Trip/One Way: Adult $24/19, child $12/10, child under 3 free
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Rapid City Regional Airport [RAP]