TravelHive Team

A short guide to visiting Mt Rushmore

Visiting Mt Rushmore. We were finally going to do it. I was finally going to see the big heads of presidents that I had grown up seeing in books. Read below for some of my tips!

Visiting Mt Rushmore


Plan Your Visit

According to the National Park Service website:

“Nearly three million people visit Mount Rushmore each year. The busiest months are June, July and August. May, September and October are less busy but popular months to visit as well.”

We went in late August/early September. It never felt too crowded. There were a lot of people also enjoying Mt Rushmore, but never overwhelming. It’s a large area that can accommodate a lot of people. The day we started our road trip was the last day of Sturgis the motorcycle rally. It was fun seeing all the motorcycles on the road. Many people also extended their stay and checked out the sites in the area. We were worried this would make it really busy, but again, we didn’t have any issues.

Please note: It was colder in the Black Hills where Mt Rushmore is located, especially in the evening, than we expected. I packed a lite coat and a sweatshit that was perfect, but my husband only had t-shirts and had to buy a super “cool” Mt Rushmore sweatshirt. 😊

Please check the National Park Service website for the most up to date information as the below can change at any time.

Fees: There are no entry fees! It does cost $10 to park your car, but it isn’t one-time use. This means you can visit Mt Rushmore several times during your trip. We took advantage of this!

Hours: Mt Rushmore is open 364 days a year (closed Christmas), times very depending on the time of year: Opens at 8:00 a.m. daily

October through May – Closes at 5:00pm

June through mid-August – Closes at 10:00pm

Mid-August through end of September – Closes at 9:00pm

Man and women visiting Mt Rushmore and smiling

Things to do:

Mt Rushmore really is a site to see. Be sure to walk the Presidential Trail. This is a paved .6-mile-long, 422 stairs walk that winds around Mt Rushmore so you can see it from all angles.

Stop by the Sculptor’s Studio for a 15-minute ranger talk about the workers, the carving process and Gutzon Borblum, who created Mt Rushmore.

Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center will greet you with a gift shop, beyond that there are two theaters showing “Mount Rushmore, The Shrine” every 20 mins, and a museum telling the story of Gutzon Borglum and the workers who made Mt Rushmore.

The Evening Lighting Ceremony is a short presentation that includes a ranger talk, recognition of veterans, and the lighting of the sculpture as the National Anthem is sung. Please note there is no lighting ceremony from October 1 through late May. This is not a “have to do,” but we figured, “Why not? We are here and when will we be coming back?” We are glad we went, but again, not a must do.

We went to Mt Rushmore several times. At first, we headed there in the morning and because of fog and once that cleared, rain, we changed our plans slightly and headed to a nearby cave and then went back to Mt Rushmore in the afternoon. We then left and had some dinner and returned for the lighting ceremony. Staying nearby let’s you be flexible with your plans. I recommend it.

Now that we have covered Mt Rushmore, we can get into all of the great things to do near Mt Rushmore!

Cover photo by Pixabay.

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