The most recognized
site in South Dakota, and one of the most in the entire West,
is Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. No matter how many times youve
seen those famous busts in films and photos, nothing can prepare
you for the enormous scale of this project. Although visitors
view the mountain from a distance, the busts of Washington, Jefferson,
Lincoln and Roosevelt still seem to loom over the Visitors Center.
A look at the dimensions and its no wonder: the height of
the figures from chin to forehead is 60 feet. The length of a
nose is 20 feet; an eye is 11 feet across. And the mouths of these
great giants? 18 feet wide each.
Admission to Mount
Rushmore is free, and the park is open year around. Youll
find the best viewing (and the smallest crowds) in the morning.
Save time during your visit for a look through the Visitors
Center, with its continuous film on the project, and a visit to
the sculptors studio where you can learn more about John
Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum. The son of Danish immigrants, Borglum
started the project in 1927 when he was 60 years old.
Are We There Yet?
You cant miss
this parkjust look for the carved mountain. Its located
24 miles from Rapid City (which is located off I-90). From Rapid
City, take Highway 16 southwest to Keystone then Highway 244 to
No, you cant
climb the mountain. You can take a hike to the base of the mountain,
though, called the Presidential Trail, a half-mile walk to the
base of the mountain for a different perspective on the giant
The best view is from
the Grandview Terrace. Its easy to findjust follow
the Avenue of Flags, flags from each of the states and territories.
Be sure to save some time for the visitors center. The center, like the other facilities in the park, has recently been redeveloped and has new, expanded displays. Over 20 exhibits explain the monument, how it was made, and more about the workers and the sculptor.
When Are We Going?
The park is open year
round but crowds peak in July and August. Avoid weekends if you
can (especially the 4th of July weekend) and go early in the summer
The best time of day
for viewing the mountain is usually morning, both to avoid crowds
and to miss possible afternoon showers that sometimes develop
during the summermonths.
How Long Are We
Youll want at
least two hours to view the visitors center, view the mountain,
take a hike to the base of the mountain, and just experience the
What Should We
hats, and good walking shoes are must-haves for summer visitors.
Binoculars are a good items, too, for having a closer view of
What Are We Doing
Mt. Rushmore is tucked
in the heart of the Black Hills, an area thats rich in visitor
Today the capital
of the Black Hills region is Rapid City, the second largestcommunity
in South Dakota. Its a town filled with motels to accommodate
the many vacationers who head to these hills every year. The town
is also dotted with shops selling Black Hills jewelry
made from tri-color gold, alloys that produce gold, pink and green
Just at the edge of Rapid City lies an unusual attraction that, while it may not be as well known as other Black Hills sites, should not be missed. Reptile Gardens, six miles south of Rapid City, Tel. 800/335-0275, may sound like just another collection of lizards and snakes, but for over 60 years this family-owned attraction has delighted visitors with its huge collection of poisonous snakes and lizards from around the world, including king cobras, rattlesnakes, mambas, and bushmasters. Youll probably want to stop to have a look at the two story Sky Dome, home to free flying parrots and finches. Among the orchids and tropical greenery there are also a few harmless reptiles as well.
To get an idea of
what Mount Rushmore was like while under construction, make a
stop at Crazy
Horse, a mountain sculpture in progress. Crazy Horse Memorial
is located 15 minutes away from Mt. Rushmore. Like the well-known
national landmark, the Crazy Horse sculpture is also a mountain
carving, but it is being done in the round. When completed, it
will be larger than its presidential neighbor.
The memorial honors
the Sioux leader Crazy Horse who defeated General Custer in the
Battle of Little Big Horn. For generations, the Black Hills have
been sacred to these Indians, so they felt this was an appropriate
place to honor their leader.
Both Mount Rushmore
and Crazy Horse are just minutes from another Black Hills attraction: Custer State Park, five miles east of Custer on US16A, Tel.
605/255-4515. Although you may have never visited this 73,000-acre
park, chances are youll recognize some of its rolling hills
and open prairies. The nations largest state park has been
used in movies including How the West Was Won and Stagecoach.
Today the park is
a popular stop for the two million travelers who view Mount Rushmore
every year. It is a welcome retreat for vacationers looking for
quiet campsites, miles of hiking and walking trails, scenic vistas,
bountiful wildlife, and a chance to see the beauty of the Black
Hills. The park is so large that youll feel like youre
returning to the wild west and can imagine how the pioneers saw
the land over a century ago.
For a view of the largest public buffalo herd in the western hemisphere, take a guided jeep tour. The herd was started here in the 1920s and has expanded to over 1400 head. The jeep tour follows the Wildlife Loop and onto some smaller park roads. You can drive the loop in your car as well (although youll find some sections rough, and some park roads are not recommended for RVs and passenger cars).
If you travel in your own vehicle, do not step out to approach buffalo. Bulls can weigh over 2000 pounds, jump a six foot fence, and run for 30-35 miles per hour for short distances. Although the buffalo are accustomed to vehicular traffic, they consider people on foot to be a threat and may charge unexpectedly.
Where's Our Room?
There are no accommodations
or campsites in the park but youll find plenty nearby. The
Black Hills claim to have enough sites to bed 25,000 campers nightly
and theres no shortage of motel rooms either. Youll
find beautiful historic lodges in Custer State Park as well, so
whatever your interest or budget, you can find a good home away
Rapid City is home to over 4,000 motel rooms.
If youre at the park in the evening hours, dont miss the Evening Lighting Ceremony. This 30-minute event is held at 9pm.
|Where to Honeymoon||Destination Weddings||Romantic Travel||Company Info|
to plan a honeymoon
Mexico, Latin America
Africa, Middle East
South Pacific, Asia, Australia
to plan a destination wedding
Marriage regulations across the world
"I Do" Hotspots:
Stages: dating to wedding
The honeymoon spirit at home: movies, music & more
Follow us on social media sites
Our other sites
Lovetripper.com Romantic Travel Guide