Family Vacations in South Dakota: Mount Rushmore
This presidential face-off of monumental proportions is a jaw-dropping feat of art and engineering. Blasted and chiseled out of granite, Mount Rushmore features four famous presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. The faces on the 5,725-foot-tall landmark tower over a majestic forest of pine, spruce, birch, and aspen trees in South Dakota's Black Hills.
The herculean effort began in 1927, with sculptor Gutzon Borglum and a team of dedicated South Dakota workers. They blasted and crafted this shrine to democracy over a 14-year period.
Before you begin walking the half-mile Presidential Trail to get a closer view of the faces, visit The Lincoln Borglum Museum to listen to interviews with the workers on Mount Rushmore, view historic footage of the carving process, and learn more about the monument's sculptor. There is even an exhibit where you can become a worker on Mount Rushmore, "detonating" dynamite charges on the mountain. You can take a ranger-guided walk along the Presidential Trail or travel at your own pace. The Sculptor's Studio features an interesting display of tools used to carve the mountain. The studio also offers ranger-led discussions about the sculpture's history.
The towering faces on Mount Rushmore are illuminated year-round. During the summer months, there is a nightly lighting ceremony in the park's spacious amphitheater. The 30-minute program consists of a short ranger talk and a film about the four presidents. At the conclusion of the film the audience sings the National Anthem as the lights slowly rise to illuminate Mount Rushmore.
Children's programs are also offered during the summer. The Junior Rangers program is for children ages 5 through 12, while teens 13 and older can join the Rushmore Rangers. A special walk led by a ranger is available for kids of all ages.
Another summer event is a Sculptor-in-Residence program that features an artist demonstrating the art of sculpture using a variety of media. The sculptor explains the processes used to create works of art today and compares them to those used by Borglum and his assistants when they carved Mount Rushmore.
The majesty of Mount Rushmore was likely the inspiration for a similar monument in South Dakota. Continue to the next page to learn about a similar project underway for Crazy Horse.
Mount Rushmore Information
Address: Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Keystone, SD
Hours of Operation: Dawn - Dusk
To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:
- Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
- South Dakota State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in South Dakota, as well as other recreational activities.
- Scenic Drives:For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.