Preparing to Visit Mount Rushmore

If you ever get the opportunity, a visit to Mount Rushmore is a must in my book. You don’t have to spend a lot of time there as it can be explored in a short amount of time, but it is an iconic place to visit.

I had visited Mount Rushmore on a trip with my family to the area while in High School. The 12 Day Road Trip Teddy and I took across the plains and mountain states was my second visit, but Teddy’s first. We had arrived in the Black Hills area the day prior and had been able to visit Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, and the Crazy Horse Memorial so far and were excited for our second day that would include Mount Rushmore, going back through Custer State Park, and exploring Badlands National Park.

Since Mount Rushmore can be visited in about 1-2 hours, we decided to make this our first stop on our second day in the Black Hills. We got up before sunrise so we could get to Mount Rushmore before sunrise. The grounds when we visited opened at 5 AM, so we got there around 5:45 before the crowds did. We got to see first light coming up over the mountain carving and since you’re at a pretty high elevation, you could see the sunrise coming up on the horizon.

We walked down to the overlook and then walked the under 1 Mile Presidential Loop which gets you a bit closer to the memorial. There were maybe 20 or so other people there when we visited which we loved. We didn’t get to visit the bookstore or watch the short film, but we still feel like we got to have a great experience there.

If you’re going to visit, try to go either in the morning or evening before it gets too busy. While you’re there, you can do a ranger led talk or a self guided narrated tour. They also have a video in the Visitor Center you can watch and a talk in the sculptor’s studio you can listen to. There’s also a Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Heritage Village on site as well that’s along the Presidential Trail.

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