Interestingly enough, Mount Rushmore was the entire inspiration for our trip to Black Hills. But in the end, it was the place we spent the least amount of time simply because there’s only so much you can do here. However, we did visit twice over the course of our weekend – and I’m happy to report that the $10 entrance fee is good for a full year! I thought that was pretty cool.

Why did we visit twice? Because we first arrived in the evening, and the lighting was not prime for photos. So for all of my photography nuts – I definitely recommend coming in the morning. The sky was absolutely delicious around 8:30 am. So anyway, these photos are from two different days but I’m just gonna plow right through them like I did it all at once.

So Mount Rushmore was only about 10 minutes from our KOA campground which was fabulous, but we actually arrived there after our excursion through Custer State Park which meant we got to take the fabulously twisty Iron Mountain Road north toward 244. There are a few tunnels that offer peek-a-boo views of the sculpture along the way. There were a lot of motorcycles at each stop-off and I was a little photo-fatigued so I didn’t get any shots of them. But I recommend coming in from the south if possible. It’s very neat.Mt Rushmore 01

Once you arrive at the memorial, parking is a breeze and it’s a short walk up to the main drag where you’ll find the Visitor Center and gift shops.Mt Rushmore 02

I had no idea what to expect because all I’ve ever seen is the set of giant heads. I wasn’t sure how close we’d be to them and I definitely didn’t except this celebration of the states.Mt Rushmore 03

It turns out – you get pretty dang close!Mt Rushmore 04

We’ve lived in seven states, but Colorado is our current home. So it felt right to capture it.Mt Rushmore 05 Mt Rushmore 06

Although there were tons of people everywhere, there is plenty of room to get photos. There is an upper level, a smaller lower balcony with benches, and then this entire amphitheater below.Mt Rushmore 07

I couldn’t decide which perspective I liked best so you’ll just get them all.Mt Rushmore 08

Oh, hello Mr. Presidents.Mt Rushmore 09

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln – I want to say I knew the middle two prior to arriving or even by just looking at the sculpture. Alas, I did not.
Mt Rushmore 10 The obligatory family shots.Mt Rushmore 11

I’m kinda digging these super wide-angle family selfies! Yes, even with the ridiculous distortion.Mt Rushmore 12

When we were coming back the next morning, there was a pull-off with this amazing view. It’s west of the memorial on 244.Mt Rushmore 13

Cool, right?Mt Rushmore 14

And I wanted to include this shot because Austin was the only one who got out of the van with me when we stopped back by. He’s always up for photos! (And of course James would have done it, but someone had to stay with the lazy bums who weren’t interested.)Mt Rushmore 15

So that’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It may not require a long visit, but it’s obviously a staple you don’t want to miss if you’re in the area.

Now onto the biggest day of our trip – Badlands National Park. I took 600 photos while we were there, so that blog is going to be a big one!

Badlands National Park
Custer State Park, SD