Mt. Rushmore, SD
Sixty-foot-high stone faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln steal the show at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, designed and built by sculptor Gutzon Borglum to commemorate the birth of the U.S. government.
The best way to see these four great American presidents up close? Walk or hike one of these easy trails:
Mountain goats, copyright
South Dakota Tourism/Chad
- Grandview Terrace. Located directly above the Visitor Center, Grandview Terrace offers the best, unobstructed view of this massive sculpture.
- Presidential Trail. From the Terrace, take the half-mile trail overlooking the Amphitheater. The path winds through ponderosa pines and ends at a point directly below the sculpture, where you can look up through the nostrils of the presidents. The first quarter mile is fully accessible to visitors with disabilities; the last quarter is strenuous.
- Avenue of Flags. On the way to Grandview Terrace and the Presidential Trail, you'll pass through this area, lined with the 56 official flags of the U.S., representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, three U.S. territories, and the two commonwealths.
- Sculptor's Studio. The Studio was built by Borglum to showcase the process of creating the memorial. Listen to a 15-minute talk about the sculptor's methodology and view his original plaster model and tools.
- Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center and Museum. Explore the history behind the making of Mt. Rushmore. The Shrine, one of several short films shown in the center's two theaters, recaps the making of the sculpture when Borglum and 400 other workers began drilling in 1927.
Don't miss the Evening Sculpture Lighting each night in summer. The 30-minute program includes a short ranger talk, a film about the four presidents, playing of the National Anthem, and finally, the lighting of the sculpture.
Grab some dinner at the Buffalo Dining Room, which offers down-home cooking and the most commanding view of the memorial.
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