The Oregon Trail 2018 travel blog

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

First view of the faces

Avenue of Flags

Another view of the faces

A peek at Washington

View from the President's Trail that goes past the base

Another view from the trail

Roughlock Falls

Beautiful scenery

Roughlock Falls with cascades in front

Cascades of Roughlock Falls

Creek is so clear one can see the fish well

Rocks seem to look like a cat's head

Spearfish Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Stage at Mount Rushmore lit up

Faces are lit at night during the ceremony

All veterans were asked to join the ranger on stage

Jim is on stage at the right of the picture

Avenue of Flags at night with the illuminated faces in the background


Keystone, SD Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a granite sculpture carved into the face of Mount Rushmore. It features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of 4 US presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Originally, the plan was to sculpt American West heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill Cody, but was changed to presidents for broader appeal. Carving started in 1927 and ended in 1941 with no fatalities. It involved the use of dynamite, followed by "honeycombing", where workers drilled holes close together, removing small pieces by hand. In total, about 450,000 short tons of rock were blasted off the mountainside. In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70’ into the rock, containing a vault with 16 porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and carver Gutzon Borglum, and the history of the U.S. The chamber was created as the entrance-way to a planned "Hall of Records". Over three million people visit the Black Hills each year to view the four great US Presidents. In the evenings there is a very moving lighting ceremony. After a brief program, the faces are lit, and all servicemen - active and retired – are asked to come onto the stage to retire the flag. Beautiful! There is no entrance fee to the memorial but there is an $11 fee to park and there is absolutely no way around it unless one is willing to hike almost 3 miles from town. Fun fact: Thomas Jefferson created the very first recipe for ice cream. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is a popular drive for summertime tourists (that's us). Huge limestone palisades tower over the highway as it twists through the 19-mile gorge. It really is beautiful. Some think fall is the most beautiful because of the fall colors but no one can deny the beauty of springtime, either. Along the way we stopped to see Roughlock Falls, Spearfish Falls and 60-foot tall Bridal Veil Falls. It seems like every state has a Bridal Veil Falls somewhere! Spearfish Creek freezes from the bottom up instead of top down in the winter so fish always have fresh water.

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