Visiting South Dakota: Mount Rushmore Memorial and Keystone Town. Part 1.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Every country or city has a recognizable iconic place or famous symbol.  Even at a glance, you can tell where it is. 

The United States is identified with The Statue of Liberty, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon National Park and, of course, Mount Rushmore National Memorial with the impressive monumental sculpture of four United States presidents carved into Mount Rushmore. 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, founded in 1925 and designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum.  Construction of the memorial lasted 16 years.

Constructing the monument in these challenging conditions was extremely hard and required a great experience and skill.  

Dynamite was used to carve out Mount Rushmore. The rock was first exploded, then workers drilled holes and removed small pieces by hand. In total, about 450 thousand tons of rock were blasted from the site during construction. 

An interesting fact that the creation of the iconic sculpture took such a long time, but it costed only 1 million dollars and not a single worker died during the construction.  

After Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941, the construction was completed by his son Lincoln Borglum in October 1941. 

The four presidents of the United States were chosen to be carved on Mount Rushmore in honor of the 150th anniversary of US history: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. 

By establishing a dedicated memorial, Gutzon Borglum wanted to remind people what ideals each of them brought to the United States of America. As Borglum said, these presidents were chosen because “their names are associated with the founding, growth, preservation and development of the United States of America.” 

According to Borglum, George Washington was chosen because he led the nation to democracy, Thomas Jefferson because he created the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln because he ended slavery in the United States and Theodore Roosevelt because he contributed to the protection of the state and business and the construction of the Panama Canal. 

Over the decades, Mount Rushmore has become as a recognizable symbol of America and 60-foot sculptures of four US presidents look impressive.  

Millions of tourists from all over the world come to admire the beauty of the Black Hills and the Memorial and learn more about the history of the United States. 

General Information for visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial: 
  • Mount Rushmore is open all year around from 5:00 AM – to 11:00 PM 
  • No entrance fee. 
  • $10 parking fee per vehicle required and ticket is valid for one year from date of purchase 
  • $5 Parking fee for Seniors, 62 and older  
  • Free parking for Active-Duty Military 
  • The busiest months: June, July and August.  
  • Best time to visit: May, September and October. 
Where to stay: 

There two options where you can stay<a href=”http://<a href=”; target=”_top”>Expedia Homepage</a>: Keystone Town and Rapid City

Keystone Town:  
Keystone Town

My first choice would be Keystone Town. 
Keystone is a small, cozy town in the Black Hills.  

In 1883, it was a mining town, but after the establishing Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, it transformed into a resort town, and today welcomes millions of visitors. 
The Mt Rushmore Memorial is located very close to Keystone Town and takes only 10 minutes to drive. 
Also, Keystone will offer you lots of things to explore, and I guarantee you will have fun there. 

Another option is to stay in Rapid City, but you will spend more time for driving to  reach all the attractions. 

Rapid city:
Rapid City,SD

Rapid City is located in the east of the Black Hills, and it is the alternative location to get to Mt Rushmore National Memorial. 

Travel time from Rapid City to Keystone: 25-30 minutes

Travel time from Rapid City to Rushmore Memorial: 30-35 minutes 

For comparison, traveling time from Keystone to Mt Rushmore Memorial: 10 min 

The number of hotels in Rapid City and Keystone Town is limited, so I recommend you to book in advance. 

What to see in Keystone Town: 
Rushmore Borglum Story, Art exhabition 

To acknowledge the importance of Mt. Rushmore memorial, visit the Borglum Museum first. At that place you can get acquainted with the work of the American artist and sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, who created sculptures of four United States presidents and learn more about the process of the construction. 

At the entrance of the museum, you will discover a monument of “Seated Lincoln” blasting of the stone. 

The National Presidential Wax Museum 

The Presidential Wax Museum is an interesting and educational experience for the whole family. In the museum, you can see over 100 lifelike wax figures, including all 46 U.S. presidents, discover the stories behind the faces and learn the history of each scene. 

Rushmore Tramway Adventures 

Visiting the Rushmore Tramway Adventures will bring you unforgettable experiences. The family-fun adventure park offers zip lines, the 2000-foot Alpine slide, Adventure Park, Tubing and chairlift with magnificent views of Mount Rushmore and a spectacular Black Hills’ scenery. 

11 thoughts on “Visiting South Dakota: Mount Rushmore Memorial and Keystone Town. Part 1.

  1. We enjoyed our time in South Dakota in fall 2018. We did visit Mount Rushmore but, as Canadians, we were a bit surprised how much revered the monument was. We based out of Rapid City which had a lot of options for what to do and where to go. On our way back home, we stopped in Deadwood and that was quite a neat place. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We visited Deadwood as well and its very cool town. To tell the truth, we were surprised how much you can see in that area: badlands, caves, needles Hwy and much more. We have a very good time too.
      Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This is true. There lots of things to explore: nature, caves, museums, have a fun and of course learn the history. We stayed in Keystone several days and had an amazing time. It was a great trip.


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