Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Monument, South Dakota

According to agooddir, the Mount Rushmore memorial – on the mountain range of the same name in the Black Hills – shows the monumental portrait heads of the four most important and symbolic US presidents up to the time of its creation. The portraits, each measuring almost 18 m in height, honor Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln from left to right.

Sculptor John Gutzon Borglum was commissioned to create a model to depict two Republicans and one Democrat alongside first President George Washington. One of the ulterior motives of this monumental monument was to find new ways to promote tourism in South Dakota.

After Congress granted the building permit, Borglum began building the structure in 1927 with up to 400 workers and vast amounts of explosives. It took almost 7 years until the first profile – that of George Washington – was completed. After Borglum died in March 1941, the project was continued by his son Lincoln Borglum and completed in October of the same year.

Due to a lack of money, the expansion of the figures had to be adjusted to the originally planned waist height. Even today you can still see the large debris cone of the blasted granite stone below the monument. About two million visitors come to Mount Rushmore every year to see the heads of the four Presidents up close. The Lincoln Borglum Museum features interesting pieces that explore the history of the monument in detailed exhibitions. Here you can also learn more about the presidents depicted and the national significance of the building.

Crazy Horse Monument
About 27 km southwest of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began building the monumental sculpture in honor of the Indian Crazy Horse in 1948. Considered the region’s Native American tribes’ answer to the four Presidential Heads in the Black Hills, it has been criticized by many Native Americans not only for its location in their Holy Land, but also for the fact that the humble Crazy Horse is sure of his persona would not have agreed.

When completed, the monument will be 195 m long and 172 m high, depicting Crazy Horse seated on a horse and pointing east with his arm outstretched. The monumental figure will then be the largest sculpture in the world. So far, however, only the face of Crazy Horse has been completed. Ziolkowski died in 1982. His work was subsequently continued by his wife Ruth, who died in May 2014, and seven of his ten children. However, the completion of the project is still not in sight, as the financing is provided by a private organization run by the Ziolkowski children, which depends on donations. Since 1998, this bombastic half-finished monument has attracted around a million visitors a year.

Mount Rushmore is a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The mountain range was named for New York attorney Charles Rushmore, who acquired gold prospecting rights in the area in 1884-85. The Crazy Horse Monument is also located in the Black Hills about 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Getting there
by car
Mount Rushmore National Memorial: From I-90, exit Rapid onto US 16 and then head southwest to Keystone and from there continue on Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore. Coming from the South, follow US 385 North to Highway 244 to the Memorial.

Crazy Horse Monument: The entrance on US Highway 16/385 (the Crazy Horse Monument Highway) is located 15 km (9 miles) south of Hill City, SD and 6.5 km (4 miles) north of Custer, SD.

Opening Hours and Seasons
Visitor facilities at Mount Rushmore National Memorial are open daily except December 25th. From 01.10.-19.03 is from 05:00 a.m. to 08:00 p.m. and from 20.03.-30.09. open from 05:00 to 23:00.

The Crazy Horse Monument is open every day of the year from 08:00 to 18:00.

Visitor Centers
The Information Center and Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center at Mount Rushmore are open 10/1-5/22 8:00am-5:00pm, 5/23-8/9 8:00am-10:00pm, 8/10-9/10 from 08:00 to 21:00.
Crazy Horse Monument’s Visitor Complex is open daily from 8am to 5pm.

Admission Fees
Admission to Mount Rushmore National Memorial is free. All you have to pay is parking fees: USD 10 per vehicle for cars, motorcycles and motorhomes, USD 5 for seniors aged 62 and over.

The Crazy Horse Monument has tiered entrance fees: USD 30.00 for a vehicle with more than two people, USD 24 for a vehicle with two people, USD 12 per person traveling alone, USD 7 per person on a motorcycle, USD 7 for cyclists and hikers.

There is no lodging or camping within Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

January and February are usually the coldest months in winter. Daytime temperatures average just above freezing. March and April is typically the snowy season in the Black Hills. Temperatures range between 5° and 10°C. May and June are mild, with temperatures between 15° and 21°C and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon. July and August are considered the warmest months, the mercury column can rise to up to 32° C with low humidity. The lowest values ​​​​are around 10° C. In summer the days are mostly warm and the nights are cool, in July and August it can get hot. In September and October, temperatures cool down to 15° to 21°C. Snowfall is possible from early September to mid-May.

Average temperatures in Rapid City, South Dakota in °C
Month Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max 3 4 8th 13 19 24 29 29 23 16 8th 3
Min -11 -10 -6 -1 6 11 14 13 7 1 -5 -11

Seasonally appropriate clothing according to the layering principle is important to make your stay as pleasant as possible.

Activities at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial
Many people visit Mount Rushmore to admire the enormous carved heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. However, there are numerous other ways to experience the area and immerse yourself in the history and scenery of South Dakota’s Black Hills.

VUSA tip

If you have 1-2 hours to spare

  • Visit the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center to see exhibits and a 14-minute film detailing the methods by which Mount Rushmore was carved from stone.
  • Walk the Presidential Trail for an up-close look at the sculptures on the mountain and, if you’re lucky, for a glimpse of wildlife.
  • Visit the Sculptor’s Studio, where Gutzon Borglum spent much of his time refining his model of Mount Rushmore (open May through September).

If you have more time:

  • Take part in a ranger walk
  • An audio tour is possible on your own (can be rented for free)
  • Visit the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Heritage Village to learn about the area’s original inhabitants. Open from June to August.
  • Take part in the nightly lighting ceremony, which takes place from mid-May to late September.

Attractions in the vicinity

Devil’s Tower
About 40 million years old and composed of volcanic rock, the monolith was formed during the formation of the Rocky Mountains and plays a role in Native American mythology. According to these, the 265 m high mountain is said to be the residence of a grizzly bear or the place of delivery and hiding place for the peoples’ holy arrows. The remarkable structure of the rock, its symmetry and exposed position make it an unmissable natural wonder in the surrounding area. Today’s naming is considered to be a more elegant ‘mistranslation’, because the Indians called it ‘tower of the evil god’ in colloquial language. Visitors can take part in regularly guided hikes and experienced climbers like to climb the monolith, although this is not possible during the Indian ceremonies in June.

Devil’s Tower is approximately 2.5 hours northwest of Mount Rushmore. Heading west on I-90, take the Sundance, WY exit and continue north on Hwy 14 to Hwy 24 and north to Devils Tower.

Black Hills
The mountain range stretches from the western part of the US state of South Dakota to northern Wyoming – over a length of 160 km and a width of 96 km and forms the continuation of the Rocky Mountains. The area is still considered sacred land by the Sioux, and many of their myths and spiritual sites are associated with the Black Mountains. When, after an illegal military expedition, considerable gold deposits were found in the region contractually promised to the Indian tribes, gold prospectors quickly entered the area. The ensuing conflicts led to the bloody Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. Probably the most famous tourist attraction is the memorial at Mount Rushmore, as well as the Crazy Horse memorial dedicated to the Indians.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Monument, South Dakota