Tag Line

 Park Finder | Northeast | Mid-Atlantic | Southeast | Great Lakes | Midwest | Rocky Mountains | Southwest | Pacific Northwest | Far West | Discuss

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, United States - OutdoorPlaces.Com

 Mount Rushmore National Memorial, United States, South Dakota

 Mount Rushmore, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, United States, copyright 1999, OutdoorPlaces.Com, all rights reserved
South Dakota's most famous feature is without a doubt Mount Rushmore and can be easily spotted on any license plate or state tourism literature.  Sculptor Gutzon Borglum, along with 400 workers carved the granite mountain over a period of 14 years from 1927 to 1941 into the memorial we see today.

Commissioned in 1925, the memorial was to embody the vision of the leaders of the United States through it's first 150 years as a nation.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt stare off into the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Gutzon Borglum selected Mount Rushmore because of it's ideal location, and the quality of the stone in the mountain.  The original vision was to include the chests of the presidents, but a number of issues during the carving scaled back the plans.

The worst of these set backs involved blasting one of the faces off to start completely over after two years of work!  The order of the presidents and how they faced also had to be modified during the 14 years of work to accommodate problems with the rock.  In the end the project had an impressive track record.  Not a single worker was killed working on the carving and there is only one visible mistake.  A drill bit became stuck in the rock, and instead of risking causing more damage, it was decided to leave it in, leaving a small visible rust streak now evident on the memorial.

Mount Rushmore has gone through a series of repairs over the last fifty years.  There are some visible cracks in the face of the memorial and recently these cracks were filled with silicone based material to keep water out.  This technique of preservation has been used for over 30 years in the White Mountains of New Hampshire to save the Old Man On The Mountain from similar damage.  The endless cycle of freeze and thaw that happens in the Black Hills would eventually destroy the memorial, but the recently completed sealing and repairs should keep it around for thousands of years.

The National Park Service also recently stored a time capsule at the memorial.  In the event that our civilization is every destroyed, the capsule explains why Mount Rushmore is there, who the people are, and why they were carved.

When visiting Mount Rushmore pay close attention to the President's eyes.  One can clearly see the pupils of the presidents staring off.  Some people even feel like they are being watched!  This effect was accomplished by carefully hollowing out the area where the pupils are, and taking advantage of the natural light to cast shadows within the hollows to create the pupil like effect.

This was not Gutzon Borglum's first mountain carving project.  He was selected to do Mount Rushmore because he had also done the Confederate Memorial at Stone Mountain, outside of Atlanta Georgia, several years earlier.

One of the best times to see Mount Rushmore is in the few days after Memorial Day, and from the middle of August to Labor Day.  From Memorial Day to Labor Day the National Park Service has a moving lighting ceremony for the mountain.  However, the long South Dakota days mean that in late June and most of July, there is still waning daylight in the sky at the 9:00 PM hour.  Those select days are best for a moving experience, in the darkness of the Black Hills.

Visitors entering the Memorial walk down a wide tiled and paved plaza with the flags of all 50 states hanging from either side toward the faces of the presidents.  At the end of this patriotic display a wide viewing area provides an excellent view of the memorial.  Visitors shouldn't let their trip to Mount Rushmore end there. 

A number of ranger led programs are available at the park and there are also a number of tours.  Recently there has been an addition of some new hiking trails.  The Presidential Trail runs for about a mile at the base of Mount Rushmore through some surprisingly beautiful ponderosa forest.  Although there are plenty of stairs, this board walked trail offers some up close views of the memorial and has a number of places to rest.  The 6/10 of a mile nature trail also goes through ponderosa forest and is a nice leisurely stroll.  The trail is best taken from the visitors center back to parking lot, as it is mostly down hill in that direction.

Mount Rushmore has a unique location in the Black Hills.  Not only is it the star attraction of South Dakota, it is perfectly located between Jewel Cave National Monument to the southwest, and Wind Cave National Park to the southeast.  Custer State Park and the Crazy Horse Memorial are very close to the park as well as a number of other commercial attractions.  When traveling in South Dakota, your trip is not complete, without a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Just The Plain Facts About Mount Rushmore National Memorial...


Destinations Base Camp Next Page