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Where Is Mount Rushmore and What You Need to Know Before Planning Your Visit

Visit Mt. Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located in Keystone, South Dakota, in the Black Hills National Forest.

Many people would be surprised to know that Mount Rushmore is located in South Dakota — but when it comes to landscapes, there are a lot of surprises about this unique state. From the natural beauty of the Black Hills National Forest and surrounding areas, to the historical monuments and the National Parks, you can experience a lot on a trip to South Dakota. And 14 million people visit each year.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is certainly a main attraction for those visiting western South Dakota, and we agree it isn’t something you want to miss. At Hinterwood, we host a lot of guests coming to see the magnificent stone faces, and below we’ve answered the top questions we get about Mount Rushmore and what you need to know before you visit.

Book your Black Hills lodging in advance. During the peak summer season, reservations are often made months in advance. Hinterwood Inn & Cabins is centrally located just 7 miles from Mount Rushmore!

What should I expect to see at Mount Rushmore?

  • The Avenue of The Flags: The pathway to the memorial is a beautiful sight! Walk through 56 flags, representing the 50 states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths of the United States of America, along with the dates each was established or admitted into the union.
  • Grand View Terrace: This is the main viewing area to see the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt beautifully carved into the granite rocks!
  • Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center: Take the elevator down below the Grand View Terrace and you’ll find the Visitor Center and museum. Watch a 14-minute video on Mount Rushmore, explore the museum, and browse through the bookstore. It’s all completely free.
  • The Presidential Trail: This is a half mile observation pathway. It starts at the Grand View Terrace and takes you closer to the base of the mountain for additional viewing of the memorial.
  • The Carvers’ Café: This is the only restaurant on site and has a lot of different options, from burgers to sandwiches and soups, and has beautiful views of the memorial while you eat. If it’s nice outside, we recommend you sit on the patio!
  • Mount Rushmore Gift Shop: Get a souvenir on your way out. They have everything from t-shirts to books and everything in between.

How much does it cost to visit Mount Rushmore?

There is no entrance fee to enter the memorial, but it is $10 park a private vehicle (commercial or school bus fees are higher). Most likely you’ll need to park, but at least there is no charge per person.

When is the best time of year to visit Mount Rushmore?

Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills area becomes really busy during the summer months. June through August are peak times for tourists, and lodging can fill up quickly, but even then visiting Mount Rushmore is very manageable. The weather is warm during this time and the Black Hills area is so beautiful with plenty to do and see.

If you’re not dependent on school schedules for vacation, the spring or fall is a great time to visit! September starts to become less busy and the weather is usually still warm, which is a perfect combination. While Mount Rushmore stays open year-round (with the exception of Christmas Day), you should know that several restaurants and shops in Keystone, Hill City, and Custer are seasonal and start to close down mid-September and October. There are options for year-round entertainment and dining, but they become more limited in the off-season.

Hinterwood Inn & Cabins stays open most of the year for lodging, closing down in January and February.

What is the best time of day to visit Mount Rushmore?

Early mornings are best if you want to beat the crowds, and you can catch the morning sun hitting the memorial for a beautiful photo opt! The busiest time to see Mount Rushmore tends to be in the late morning to afternoon hours. If you go during a busy time, it is still very manageable — the Grand View Terrace viewing area, the Visitors Center and museum, the Presidential Trail, the gift shop, the Carvers’ Café, etc. There are plenty of areas for visitors to explore and spread out.

Is Mount Rushmore Open Year-Round?

Mount Rushmore stays open year-round, with the exception of Christmas Day. The standard hours are 5:00 a.m. — 11:00 p.m., and change to a 9:00 p.m. close in the off-season (October through mid-March).

How Long Should I Plan to Stay at Mount Rushmore?

Most people spend one to two hours at Mount Rushmore, but you could easily spend more time there if you took it slow. Depending on how much time you spend taking photos, viewing the monument from the Grand View Terrace, exploring the museum and gift shop, and even walking the half mile Presidential Trail observation path — you could plan for up to 3 hours there. There is also a restaurant and ice cream shop located on-site.

What is the best form of transportation to get to and around Mount Rushmore?

Plan on driving your own car here or renting a car when you land. The nearest airport is outside of Rapid City, which is approximately 45 minutes away from the actual memorial (you’ll fly into Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) and can rent a car there).

You will likely want to find lodging close to Mount Rushmore or the other surrounding attractions in the Black Hills. If you stay in the Keystone, Hill City, or Custer area you will be close to a lot more than just Mount Rushmore.

What Activities are offered for children at Mount Rushmore?

Your children will be able to participate in the Junior Ranger Program, which is a fun way to learn about Mount Rushmore and other National Parks (be sure to participate if you visit Badlands National Park too!). At the end of training a Junior Ranger Badge is awarded, which is a great souvenir for kids to take home.

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