Mount Rushmore is one of the very few national parks which does not charge an entrance fee. There is, however, an annual parking charge, which is used to offset operation and maintenance costs of the parking facility.A visit to Mount Rushmore is a treat for the senses. Awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time, this is one monument that never fails to instigate an intense feeling of patriotism. It isn't any wonder, then, that it is one of the most visited monuments in America, attracting around 3 million visitors every year.
The Mount Rushmore Memorial is a tribute to the nation's four presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The best aspect about the park is that it welcomes visitors all year round, so you can actually visit it any time of the year, barring the wet season in May and June, and on December 25th, when it is closed for Christmas. For now, here are some useful tips to help you plan your trip.
Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located near Keystone, South Dakota, and is undoubtedly the biggest attraction in the state. The 4th of July fireworks used to see a huge draw until 2012, but have been discontinued since, owing to the threat to the surrounding forested area.
The closest airport is located in Rapid City, which is around 35 miles from the Memorial.
If you're taking the road, exit Rapid City, and take U.S. Highway 16 southwest to Keystone, followed by Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore.
There are no provisions for accommodation here at the Memorial. You will, however, find plenty of options in the vicinity of the Black Hills area.
The summer season sees a rise in the number of visitors. So if you're looking to avoid the crowds, you may want to skip the months of July and August. The numbers tend to peak on July 3rd and 4th, for obvious reasons.
If you enjoy birdwatching, there is something interesting in store for you as you travel to Mount Rushmore. The Black Hills area is a haven for birdwatchers, with an impressive line up of birds like the Bald Eagle, Burrowing Owl, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Black-backed Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, Canyon Wren, Mountain Bluebird, along with several warblers, sparrows, swallows, nuthatches, and waterfowl being spotted in the area.
You won't be charged an entrance fee, but a parking fee to enter the Memorial. This is an annual charge, which offers your vehicle unlimited entry for the calendar year. Parking charges vary, depending upon the type of vehicle.
The Information Center is quite close to the parking area, and will be your first stop. Once you're here, the park rangers present will be happy to help you schedule your tour, and answer all your queries. The Memorial tour can take up to two hours.
Since the park is never closed, try to time your visit in the early hours of the morning. Not only will it give you the peace and quiet you desire, you'll also get a chance to enjoy a monumental breakfast at the Carvers Café. The food is bound to impress you, but how often do you actually get a chance to enjoy a meal with a view like that?
The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, below the Grand View Terrace has two theaters, along with a museum and a bookstore. The museum houses exhibits relating to the creator of the monument, Gutzon Borglum and his team of workers.
You may also want to visit the Sculptor's Studio, where Gutzon Borglum worked from 1939 to 1941. There's also a 1/12th scale model of Mount Rushmore on display here at the studio.
Evenings are special at the Memorial, with an inspirational program scheduled at the amphitheater every evening from May to September. This is followed by a screening of the short film, Freedom: America's Lasting Legacy. After the screening, the monument is lit up, and the evening ends with a flag ceremony to honor the military personnel. In the winter and spring, the monument is illuminated for an hour after sunset.
Your visit to the Mount Rushmore Memorial will stay fresh in your memory, for a long time to come. Among all the monuments and memorials across the United States, Mount Rushmore will always rank as a must-see.