Mount Rushmore: A Photo Travelogue

Mount Rushmore: A Photo Travelogue

Mount Rushmore is one of the most iconic sites in the United States. The sculpture of four U.S. Presidents is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Each year, three million tourists visit the site. Recently, Family Well Traveled returned to Mount Rushmore. We found it just as awe-inspiring as during our first visit. But, words alone cannot accurately describe the experience. So we put together a Mount Rushmore Photo Travelogue to capture the allure of the U.S. National Memorial.

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Driving to the Memorial

Mount Rushmore Photo Travelogue Profile
The profile view of Washington from the roadside.

You don’t need to enter the memorial to see the sculpture. The sculpture is visible from the road side. We see many people biking or hiking around the memorial with cameras in hand.

There are a few roadside pullouts where you can see the Presidents. Although you cannot see the full sculpture, we enjoyed one pullout a half mile from the Memorial’s parking lot where you get a great profile view of George Washington.

Entering Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore Entrance
The entrance to the memorial site.

Once you find a parking spot in the covered parking garage, you will make your way upstairs to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The view is breathtaking, but there is more to come as you draw closer to the sculpture.

Structures at the Entrance

Rushmore Ice Cream
Ice cream parlor.

Near the entrance, there is a welcome center, a place to purchase audio tour devices, a gift shop, and an ice cream parlor. On hot days, or beautiful evenings, nothing could be better than grabbing an ice cream while sitting and admiring the sculpture that took 14 years to construct.

Avenue of Flags

Colorado Flag
Colorado Flag on the Avenue of Flags

The Avenue of Flags, installed during the U.S. Bicentennial celebration in 1976, showcases 56 flags (the 50 U.S. States, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Northern Mariana Islands).

Avenue of Flags
Avenue of Flags

Presidential Trail

The Presidential Trail is a 0.5 mile walk with 422 stairs. Some of the walk is wheelchair accessible. The trail provides the most up-close views of the sculpture.

Presidential Trail

The trail is off of the Grand View Terrace. You walk around the front of the sculpture, with plenty of good photo opportunities of each President.

Presidential Trail at Rushmore

From the Presidential Trail

While on the walk, our son had his eyes peeled for evidence of hidden tunnels and caves within the sculpture. He heard that there are secret tunnels. Of course, the movie National Treasure helped incite this speculation. And original plans for the memorial included a chamber which would have been a hall of records, housing important U.S. documents. So there may be hidden chambers within Mount Rushmore.

Eye Cave
If there a secret chamber in Lincoln’s eye?

One thing that is not hidden is a cleft among boulders on the trail. Enter into the well-marked crevice for a fun view of President Washington.

Rock View Rushmore
A view from among the boulders on the Presidential Trail.
Looking up at Washington
Looking up at Washington
Trail Markers
Historical facts about the Presidents found throughout the trail.
Looking up at Lincoln
Looking up at Lincoln.

As you walk the trail, you’ll notice that there are lots of places to get good pictures of Washington and Lincoln. However, getting a good photo of Jefferson or Roosevelt is more difficult, though not impossible.

Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.
Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.
Jefferson through the Trees
A look at Jefferson through the trees on the trail.

There are plenty of places to stop and sit along the trail. And there are ample spots for taking pictures.

Mount Rushmore Photo Travelogue Presidents
A look at the four Presidents.

Sculptor’s Studio

Sculptor's Studio

Along the Presidential Trail, you find the Sculptor’s Studio. Here, chief sculptor Guzton Borglum worked from 1939-41. The studio includes a 1/12 size model of the Memorial. On the model, you can see the original plan to include torsos instead of simply faces. Money and time prevented that plan, although you can see some torso and clothing on Washington today.

Mount Rushmore Scale Model
The scale model inside the Sculptor’s Studio.
Inside the Sculptor's Studio at Mount Rushmore
A fireplace inside the Sculptor’s Studio

The studio showcases a number of etching and drawings involved in the design and construction of the memorial. There also is a bookstore.

A blueprint of the Records Room that was to be built inside the memorial.
Eye Sculpture
Here’s looking at you, kid.

Borglum View Terrace

The Sculptor
A sculpture of Borglum by his son. Lincoln.

As you rounding your way to the end of the Presidential Trail, you find the Borglum View Terrace. A number of Ranger talks and programs occur here. While we visited, a Ranger had a number of animal pelts. The kids could touch the pelts and try to identify the animal. A sculptor of Borglum, made by his son, is here too.

a Teepee at the Terrace. A reminder of the influence of many Native American peoples in the Black Hills.

We know that pictures cannot capture the majesty of the memorial. Clearly, it must be experienced in person. However, we do hope that this Mount Rushmore Photo Travelogue helps you prepare for your own trip to the Black Hills and a visit to the iconic National Memorial.

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Mount Rushmore Photo Travelogue

Mount Rushmore Photo Travel Guide

All photos and content are by Family Well Traveled and use of photos or content without permission will result in legal action.

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