Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is definitely a modern marvel of epic proportions. Bruce and I have made the pilgrimage to see the ‘Shrine of Democracy’ several times and it never fails to impress us.
The sculpture, created by Gutzon Borglum, took 14 years to complete at a cost of one million dollars. The mountainside sculpture features the faces of four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Each of the faces is about 60-foot high and they stand approximately 500 feet above the ground. It truly is an awesome sight to see. Also, don’t miss the Evening Lighting Ceremony where the sculpture is illuminated each evening for 2 hours, beginning 30 minutes after sunset.
Once you have seen the monument, there is still a lot to do in the area:
The nearby Crazy Horse Memorial is a work in progress, the world’s largest mountain carving in progress as a matter of fact! Even though it is far from complete, it is still an awesome site and well worth the visit.
Spend the day in Custer State Park or if you don’t have time for a whole day, at least take the drive on the Needles Highway. Just be aware that there are several parts of the highway that go through narrow tunnels, so know the size of your vehicle!
If you like to shop, there are many stores to wander through in the town of Keystone. They offer a little of everything – from Christmas decorations and Indian pottery to bumper stickers and rubber snakes.
Once you are done shopping, hop aboard the 1880 Train. It is a great way to spend an afternoon relaxing while chugging along the tracks on a vintage steam train that winds its way through the black hills on its way to Hill City and then back to Keystone again.
If you want to strike it rich, you can make a stop at the Big Thunder Gold Mine where you can take a tour of a real mine and then pan for gold.
If four presidents isn’t enough for you, then visit the National Presidential Wax Museum and see them all. Then if you have time, you can take in a round of mini golf at the nearby Holy Terror Mini Golf course.
And of course we can’t leave out the Rushmore Borglum Story. A great place to visit if you want more information on the man behind the mountain.
This is far from an all inclusive list of what the Black Hills has to offer. For more ideas on what to do in the area, visit the Keystone Chamber of Commerce.
Whether you want to stay in a family owned campground, a state park, or a campground with all of the amenities, you will find it in the Keystone, SD Area. Our personal favorite is the Mount Rushmore KOA. It is a beautiful campground with great facilities and lots of things to do. You can start the day with a pancake breakfast and a spend the afternoon in their water park with the kiddies. If you want to stay right in Keystone, check out Kemp’s Kamp or if you are looking for something a bit more rustic, there is the Horsethief Lake campground in the Black Hills National Forest or the Center Lake campground at Custer State Park nearby.
Whatever you do or wherever you stay you can’t go wrong with a visit to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota!