By the time you read this post we’ll be on a 10-day boating trip in ALASKA! More on that to come soon. Back to the West. With the rolling hills on the horizon and the setting sun lighting up the road before us, we were determined to make it to those mighty stone Presidents before they tucked themselves in under the starry-night sky and called it a night:
With over three million visitors per year, what most people don’t know, ourselves included, is that every night of summer Mount Rushmore puts on a lighting ceremony from 9-10pm (seasonal hours here) when they light up the monument with a mighty flip of the switch. We happened to miss the show by literally 10 minutes and arrived as the masses were flooding towards the exit gates. The beauty in this was that EVERYONE left the park and we had the four most revered Presidents in Our Nation’s history all to ourselves:
With the park being open until 11:30pm we had time to scope out the grounds and simply enjoy being in the presence of something we had only imagined seeing since we were kids. Though they were smaller than we had expected, they were a hundred times more regal. Then, all of a sudden, the clock struck 11pm and the lights lighting up the monument shut off! While we hadn’t had the chance to see them light the monument, we were unexpectedly gifted with the opportunity to see them off for the night. A truly unique experience that we would have never known to stick around for.
We couldn’t help but want to return the following day to see Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln all lit up by the warm, summer sun. Bonus: When you buy your parking ticket for Mount Rushmore you can return for free for the rest of the year!
Look at how nice and spiffy they looked!:
Fun fact: Carving started in 1927 and ended in 1941 with over 400 workers and no fatalities…! When you are face-to-face with the massiveness that is Mount Rushmore you’ll see how crazy, and miraculous, that really is. I never realized Teddy wore bifocals!:
We also made sure to walk along the must-do Presidential Trail, a .6 mile loop with 422 steps that takes you as close as you can (legally) get to these guys:
Oh! Before leaving, be sure not to miss out on Washington’s studly profile! When leaving the park turn right onto the main road and soon enough you will see a parking lot on your left with this handsome guy right in front of you. It was honestly one of our favorite views:
Tips for visiting Mount Rushmore:
- Add some festive flair, wear red, white and blue, or something patriotic!
- They have food available, but picnics are more fun 🙂
- Read these fun facts, especially if you have kids.
- Bring a tripod (especially at night) if you want to pose alongside these stone-faced giants, or maybe even give them a little smooch!
- Got some time to kill? Located just 30 minutes away (map) is Crazy Horse, a massive mountain monument that’s (forever) under construction which Drew saw as a little kid and wanted to return to. It was cool, over-priced and MASSIVE. Just for some perspective, the head of Crazy Horse will be 87-feet high, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet high.
- On your way in or out of town, or both, visit Wall Drug in Wall, SD. Enjoy a hearty meal, ride a Jackalope, get a free bumper sticker, visit the “Travelers’ Church” and sip on some of the famously “free ice water” that they’ve been serving up since 1931! It’s an extremely unique stop that’s well worth your time and with the 100+ catchy billboards they have lining I-90 you can’t miss it (map). You can read up on their inspiring little history here:
When it comes to deciding whether to visit Mount Rushmore by day or by the light of the moon, we say both! And our Jackalope friend gladly agrees.