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Explore the Iconic Mount Rushmore

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Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.

Mount Rushmore

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Image description: The iconic Mount Rushmore. Photo from the National Park Service.

Mount Rushmore is iconic, there’s no doubt about it! The massive carving, with its surrounding mountainside, is one of our nation’s most recognizable public landmarks. That’s not all there is to it, though - by visiting this public land, you can learn about the sculptures’ tumultuous history, explore the Avenue of Flags or take a hike in the South Dakota Black Hills.

More than 3 million visitors from across the nation and around the world visit the park annually, to see the landmark that has been described as a “symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds.”

Initially, Doane Robinson, often called the “Father of Mount Rushmore,” intended for a carving of one of the Needles in the likeness of a notable Sioux. This plan changed as time went on and today, the carvings of four great American presidents look out from the side of Mount Rushmore.

 To learn more about the history of the installation - including the blasting away of one of the president’s heads in 1933 and the proposal of including Susan B. Anthony on the mountainside - check out PBS’s timeline of Mount Rushmore’s creation.

After taking a snapshot of the 60-foot-tall heads staring out at you from the ancient rock, be sure to check out the other activities that the park has to offer:

  • Visit the Avenue of Flags (PDF), created as a celebration of America’s bicentennial

  • Take a guided walk to the Sculptor’s Studio, or one of the other available ranger tours

  • Attend the Evening Sculpture Lighting Ceremony which takes place at approximately 9 p.m. nightly from May to September

  • Take in the Burkett Plaque, in honor of then-college student William Andrew Burkett’s award-winning essay (PDF)

  • Bask in the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota

When planning your visit, you can check out the National Weather Service’s forecast or read brochures about the park, available online through the National Park Service. You can also read President George Bush’s remarks at the park’s dedication July 3, 1991, available courtesy of the American Presidency Project.