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
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
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
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are plenty of places to stop and sit along the trail. And there are ample spots for taking pictures.
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.
The studio showcases a number of etching and drawings involved in the design and construction of the memorial. There also is a bookstore.
Borglum View Terrace
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.
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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8 thoughts on “Mount Rushmore: A Photo Travelogue”
We’ve been to so many memorials, but never this one. We have this one on our “to see” list.
It’s definitely worth the trip.
Nice tip about the ice cream parlor at the entrance. I look for things like that to add a little more excitement for the kids when we’re going somewhere. They seem to really respond to the possibility of getting ice cream! 😃
I’m always up for some ice cream.
I loved my visit to Mt Rushmore- it’s such an iconic thing to see. We did not have time to visit the sculptor’s studio so will need to do that next time!
We loved our visit to Mt. Rushmore! Didn’t do any of the trails like you, but I wish I had. Hope to return someday to see it lit up at night.
We just back from Mount Rushmore a couple of weeks ago, so reading this was like taking me back there. But right now they have construction around the Avenue of Flags, so we had to start the hike from the Nature Trail, located on the right side of the entrance. It was longer but worth the effort.
We just missed the construction on the Avenue of Flags. I know the park will be amazing once all the upgrades are done.