While sightseeing was not the main purpose of our trip to the Black Hills, we couldn’t resist sneaking in a little bit. One day we were able to visit Mt Rushmore. If you haven’t been there recently, they have really done a nice job upgrading the parking areas, with a ramp rather than the old gravel lot. With all improvements comes a price, it is $10 to park at Mt Rushmore but that is good for an entire year, so while you are in the area you could make more than one stop in to see this famous monument. The best time recommended to visit is in the morning hours as the light from the sun highlights the monument at it’s best. Another time that would be interesting is the lighting ceremony they hold most evenings throughout the summer. As the area we were camping in was over an hour away from Mt Rushmore, while we originally planned on doing a lighting ceremony, I revamped the plans for a morning visit. We arrived around 10:30am and were able to easily find shaded parking in the ramp. Upon entering the memorial area there are restrooms on one side, and a gift shop and ranger office on the other side. The rangers have a Jr Ranger program the children can participate in which will keep them interested and searching for things on your visit. This can be turned in before you leave and they can get a sticker or pay an additional fee for a patch. The booklet also has word finds and crossword puzzles, so even if they do not have time to complete it, there’s some fun activities in there for later. Upon turning it in the child will get sworn in as a Jr Ranger. There were 3 different programs based on age. You next walk down the ramp with the flags from all the states and come up on the viewing area. To the left is a larger gift shop, and to the right some dining options. Directly in front of you will be the stadium seating for the lighting program and any other programs they hold. You can take either the stairs or an elevator down a level to the museum where there is a short film that takes you through the history of Mount Rushmore. Many of the displays are interactive and quite interesting. There is a trail that walks up closer to the mountain itself and loops around coming back in a circle. We chose not to walk the trail as the “view” wasn’t any better close up from what I remembered from a previous visit, and it was hot hot hot, and I just didn’t have the energy. After we visited the museum and took some more pictures, we decided to go ahead and eat in the cafeteria there. The prices were not bad for a tourist destination and the choices were quite varied. DH got a salad and some buffalo chili, I got a pot roast dinner with potatoes, carrots and a roll, and the two kid’s both got a pizza (the sauce smelled funky to me, a bit too tomato pasty). All in all, $40 for the 4 of us to eat with soft drinks.
Mic and Kids at Mt Rushmore