You have the opportunity to go to the United States? Great ! You plan your trip, and choose the cities or places where you want to go, and there ... you see that it's big, the United States ... Very big.So, unless you really want to discover Mount Rushmore yourself, you will only do so if you visit the North West of the country. That's good, that's where the largest natural parks, like the Yellowstone, are. South Dakota is not far, Rapid City is the landmark on the map. So you can plan your stay. And here is some tourist information to help you prepare the visit as best as possible.
Going to the memorial
If you do not use the services of specialists in tourism, such as tour operators or official guides, you will necessarily use a particular vehicle to go to the site of Mount Rushmore. There are public bus connections, but this is not the fastest way. So, from Rapid City, take the US 16 Southwest. 26 miles further, you will cross the small town of Keystone, essentially consisting of shops. Continue for another mile, then take the fork on Route 244 to Mount Rushmore. You will not be able to miss it, just look up.
The site is free! And yes !
But do not rejoice too quickly: In this country where money is king, you will have to pay the parking, and it is for $ 10. A kind of entrance fee to the site, what ...
But leave to do in originality, as much to the end: The entrance ticket is valid for one year, which means that you can return as many times as you want, you will not have to pay the car park. It's very original, as a principle. And useful for the sound and light show, the evening. You can rest at the end of the day and come back at night, you will not have to pay back.
Otherwise, budget question, know that audio guides in several languages are available at a rate of $ 5 per unit, decreasing rate for large families. And also that the site contains shops, of course.
The Mount Rushmore Memorial is open every day of the year except December 25, from 5 am to 10 pm. That's the opening hours of the car parks and the arrival of security. But the tourist infrastructures themselves are open from 8h to 22h from May to mid-August, from 8h to 21h from mid-August to the end of September and from 8h to 17h the rest of the year.
When to go?
The good news is that there are no annual constraints related to weather or any other outdoor element, you can visit Mount Rushmore any day of the year. Of course, in the winter it's pretty cold in South Dakota (up to an average of -7 in January), we're in the North of the United States. Summer is the affluence that is embarrassing.
But one in the other, they are not prohibitive periods.On the other hand, visiting time is important. If you have the opportunity go early in the morning. This is simply because the monument faces east, so the Sun hits it in front of its lifting.
Where to park?
The parking is small enough for such a site, but it seems enough. It is made in two parts, each of which can accommodate a hundred vehicles per level. Parking is paid at the entrance, there is a kind of toll.
No need to try to park elsewhere. This is possible of course, along the road or on forest areas a bit flat, but you will end up walking a lot to finally by much.
As a national memorial, the site is well equipped to take care of tourists, of course. Aside from the car parks, there is a visitor center that takes care of various questions or requests, such as organizing a private visit, a restaurant, an ice cream shop and a souvenir shop. There are all the necessary amenities, including for people with reduced mobility, except for the "hiking" part of the site. And it's a shame because this is the interest of this memorial, in addition to the view of the statues of course. But you have to be honest, make a trail accessible to people in wheelchairs and just impossible here.
Otherwise it is possible to rent the services of a ranger to visit the site is the equivalent of a guide in the wild. In general it presents the site in 30 minutes, these are small sessions. If you prefer, there are also audio guides in several languages, they can be rented for 2 hours, the classic duration of an on-site visit.
Overall, we can say that Mount Rushmore is an interesting tourist site to see. Maybe not enough to cross the United States to get there, but a trip to the North of the country must go through here, of course. There are different things to see, it's quite fun, but one in the other is also not the historical site where you will learn the most about the history of the United States. Besides the entire visit usually takes 2 to 3 hours, not much more.
When you are there you will inevitably see:
The faces of the presidents
This is the most important, of course. But you will surely be surprised by their remoteness. In fact, the faces are far, we see them when we arrive on the site. It is by approaching the esplanade that they are better distinguished.
The avenue of flags
It is the path that leads from the reception center to the esplanade. Long enough, it owes its name to the many flags that surround it.
The Grand view terrace
It is the famous esplanade which offers the most beautiful panorama on the monument. But in itself, it's nothing more than a large terrace.
The presidential trail is the name given to the path that approaches the faces. It is a mountain trail, wide and very easy to borrow, which approaches closer. But do not think you'll come right next to the statues, this path stops on a clear space to have a good view, but we remain quite far from the faces. Anyway it is absolutely necessary to take this path, it is not only very pleasant, but it also leads to other elements of the visit as indicated below.
Do not expect anything big, this museum is very small and its essential role is to project a 13-minute film on the history of the site.
The sculptor's studio
This is the sculptor's studio, the place where Gutzon Borglum worked. More interesting than the museum, there is the large model he had built to follow the project. It shows that the mountain was supposed to be entirely carved, whereas nowadays only the faces have been.
The Indian village
As the statue of Mount Rushmore is controversial among the Indian population, the authorities have reconstructed an Indian village to present, in a fun way, the culture of local natives, before the arrival of settlers.
All these elements to visit are described more precisely in the description of Mount Rushmore.
Sound and light
From mid-May to the end of September the site of the memorial presents a sound and light show, the evening (at 21h, 20h at the end of the season). This is a 40-minute film about US history, focusing on the four presidents of the monument: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Once completed the monument is illuminated for 2 hours every night.
Badlands National Park
It is a national park that is characterized by its rugged hillsides, its rugged terrain. Each mountain is streaked by erosion which brings out the successive layers of the soil. It's like being in the Grand Canyon, but far from it.
Custer State Park
This national park is known for its thousand wild bison. It is a large natural site where it is pleasant to circulate.
Relic carefully preserved, this simple farmhouse is the place where grew the author of the novel "The little house in the meadow", from which was drawn the television series.
Crazy horse memorial
It is the Indian equivalent of Mount Rushmore. Huge sculpture of a mountain, it is still under construction. She represents a warrior of the Lakota tribe, who live on the spot. South Dakota was also home to Nakota Indians and Dakotas. This monument is entirely financed by donations because it is seen, from the American point of view, as a reminder of the Indian genocide perpetrated during the colonization of American lands. The Indians, on the contrary, had suffered Mount Rushmore as an insult to their history, the invaders building a monument to the glory of their rulers directly on their land. This monument is controversial ... But he is still progressing, little by little.
Wind cave national park
This national park is original because it is home to the largest network of caves in the world, at least according to those who live there. Still, many of these caves are visitable, and the name of "wind cave" (literally, "wind cave"), comes from the fact that they are sometimes open at many ends, causing currents of air.