Everything in South Dakota revolves around Mount Rushmore. This is a great national historic site that everyone should visit. We highly recommend planning a road trip to see this American treasure. We have even created this South Dakota Roadtrip adventure list to help!
Mount Rushmore costs $10 for parking. Your National Parks Pass won’t help, you’re in for the $10, but it is totally worth it. After you park, you approach the monument. There is a walkway right up to the front of the monument with each of the flags of the states and territories. It is a surreal experience to see such an iconic monument with your own eyes. You’ll probably spend around 30 minutes taking pictures and staring in awe at the faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. There are a lot of other things to do, too.
There are two museums at Mount Rushmore. The first is at the Visitor’s Center below ground. There is an elevator that takes you down so you can view a movie and learn more about the monument. There is also a Junior Ranger program for the kids. The second museum is the Artist’s Studio, and it requires a hike. But when you are there you get much more information about how the monument was created and the artist that designed and sculpted it. Make sure to spend time in both of these museums if your health allows you to make the hike.
The hike we’re referring to is the Presidential Trail, which is quite short at 1/2 mile, but requires a climb up some steep stairs. This trail loops right up under the noses of the presidents and allows you to see the famous foursome from many different angles. We also liked learning the reasons that each of these four presidents were chosen to be a part of such a magnificent memorial. Make sure you keep an eye out for mountain goats, too. We didn’t see any, but we’ve heard they are climbing the rocks along this trail sometimes.
Our last recommendation is to buy some Thomas Jefferson ice cream. We learned that Jefferson published the first ice cream recipe in the United States. His ice cream is a nice, rich vanilla, and it was the perfect way to end our half day at Mount Rushmore!