We recommend a visit to South Dakota's Black Hills for Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a huge mountain carving of 60-foot high faces, which stretch 500 feet up, in the middle of forest-land. It is an iconic image which sculptor Gutzon Borglum began drilling into the 5,725-foot mountain in 1927. This “Shrine of Democracy”, took 14 years to achieve, and as a landmark it is well worth visiting on your self-drive tour of the USA.
Open all year, seven days a week (with the exception of December 25), the park is a good place to walk around on a loop – in our opinion a really easy half mile trail which the whole family could enjoy. Walk along the Avenue of Flags for direct and easy access to the Grandview Terrace and Presidential Trail. The flags of 56 U.S. states and territories fly below the memorial. There are rangers on hand to provide guided walks if you want to learn as you go.
A lighting ceremony is presented at the amphitheatre in summer beginning at 9pm when the sculpture is illuminated nightly for one hour.
The Sculptor's Studio is open during the summer only, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In fact, during winter whilst you can enjoy the memorial, it is a much quieter place, so food and services are limited – you should eat at any of the local towns.
As for staying near Mount Rushmore, we'd recommend driving just half an hour to the quaint town of Rapid City. Nestled within South Dakota's Black Hills, this historic town offers an eclectic mix of charming hotels, restaurants and bars - especially in the lively downtown area.