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Construction at Mount Rushmore? More Like Enhancements

Despite only living in Rapid City for 12 years, this adventurer is glad to call the Black Hills his home. Actually seeing him is rare as he is usually huddled behind his camera trying to capture anything and everything that catches his eye.

September 03, 2019

I have lived in the Black Hills for 12 years, and have been to Mount Rushmore countless times. With each visit, I still look up at these monumental faces and say “wow!”. The time, effort, sweat, and creativity that went into the creation of this sculpture is truly a wonder to see. I recently made a trip up to see if the enhancement work was affecting the view of our founding fathers and the answer is quite simple. It doesn’t.

The first thing we thing did when we got there was grab a map. This is a big memorial with a lot to see. We wanted to take a look at exactly where the enhancements were taking place, while still making the most of the experience. The Avenue of Flags, Grand View Terrace, Amphitheatre and Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center are all under construction. Sounds like a lot, right? Think again! All of these locations are right next to each other and only a small portion of what you can see and do while at the monument! “Where should I go if I can’t go down the Avenue of flags?” you may ask. Well let me tell you. The nicely paved trails are your ticket.

Nature Trail

As you’re standing outside of the park, just above the parking area, take a sharp right and don’t stop until you hit the Nature Trail. The nature trail paves its way through, well… nature. The forest surrounding Mount Rushmore is a spectacle to see. The area is filled with trees and various wildlife from chipmunks to Mountain Goats. Stay on this trail to wind up at the Borglum View Terrace and then the Sculptor’s Studio.


Sculptor’s Studio

The Sculptor’s Studio offers a handful of ranger talks to explain how the mountain was made, as well as what it was supposed to look like. That’s right. This wasn’t supposed to be the final draft. After you’ve gotten your carving history lesson, head down the stairs just outside the studio and begin the Presidential Trail experience. This trail will get you closer to the Presidents than any other area within the memorial! Have no fear, these four guys still look great from this downward angle.

Presidential Trail

Now, I wouldn’t say this trail is tough, but it does have quite a few stairs. I wish I could tell you how many, but I was too busy reading the history of the sculpture and oogling at the countless views of each president. If you’re not a big reader, you can also rent either an audio or multimedia tour explains the history of Mount Rushmore and guides you as you stroll on the Presidential Trail.

Thomas Jefferson Ice Cream

After you’ve gotten to see all angles of their chiseled faces, head back into the memorial to shop for gifts, food, and the second most important feature of the memorial… ICE CREAM! That’s right. The enhancement project does not, I REPEAT, does not affect your ability to enjoy some Thomas Jefferson original recipe vanilla ice cream, which you can see handwritten throughout the park. I had the Strawberry Cheesecake, not a TJ original, but you get whatever your sweet tooth desires. No matter the flavor, your taste buds won’t be disappointed.

Blackberry Trail

If you’re still up for some more adventure, you can head over to Blackberry Trail which is right across the street from the parking lot. This hike is a mile long but just to warn you, it is not a circle. You will have to turn back around at the end, but this hike gives you another interesting look at the presidents with George himself practically staring right at you.

All in all, these enhancements are something to look forward to and shouldn’t make you shy away from an amazing bucket list experience. All events are still continuing such as the Lighting Ceremony, Ranger Talks. Mount Rushmore has also added a Teddy Roosevelt Impersonator this year to highlight one of our founding fathers. Check out the top ten activities we recommend doing during your visit.