Mount Rushmore National Memorial

We left Wall yesterday and made our way west to Rapid City. Then we turned south to head a little way down Highway 79 to a small town called Hermosa, SD. We found an RV park called Heartland RV Park & Cabins. It is right along Hwy. 79.

The park is only 5 years old. There are 165 camping sites with 120 of those sites with 50 amp, full hookups. However, they are working on adding A LOT MORE sites! I don’t know how many more, but it’s a lot. Because it is such a new campground, the trees are small, so there isn’t much shade. All the facilities are, also, very nice!

This morning we got up early because we decided to go see Mount Rushmore. I brought my dad to see Mount Rushmore exactly five years ago, and it was the exact same date! The sun was shining and it was going to be a great day.

As we got near the mountain, we got some “sneak peeks” of the four presidents. There’s nothing like seeing the carvings on the mountain for the first time! Even though it was second time here, the sight of that mountain is still exhilarating.

We arrived at the memorial around 10:00 a.m. They had a snowstorm here last week (the news said 14-16 inches of snow!), so there were still piles of snow in various places.

We parked the car and walked to the entrance. Walking through the entrance and down the “honor guard” of pillars with flags representing all 50 states is inspirational. Add to those flags Mount Rushmore in the background, and, well, people just halt right where they are, looking up and gawking for several minutes.

Looking at the mountain from the edge of the viewing area, which is at the back of the amphitheater, is fantastic (it’s the view you see in textbooks and other publications). I could sit there for hours and just stare at those four presidents.

There is a hiking trail that goes to the base of the mountain where you will see some unusual and special views of Mount Rushmore. We decided to walk the trail and went to our left from the main viewing platform to start it (you can also go to the right; it’s the same trail).

The sun was still shining, but we could see some clouds building. We didn’t think much about it. However, it did start to lightly sprinkle about the time we were directly below the presidents. Then the rain drops got bigger and the temperatures had dropped. Needless to say, we began walking faster, so we wouldn’t get too wet. Before long, we arrived at a building called the Sculptor Studio, so we went inside and looked around for a while during the heaviest part of the rain. When the rain almost stopped, we finished the hiking trail and ended up on the right side of the viewing platform.

Before we left, we had to go in the Gift Shop (of course!). It is large gift shop, and I had been in there with my dad five years ago. However, today was a special day at the gift shop. They had a special guest: Mr. Don “Nick” Clifford. Mr. Clifford was one of the original Mount Rushmore drillers from 1938-1940, and he is the only person who worked on the mountain who is still living today. He was 17 when he started working on Mount Rushmore, and he is 97 years old now. He goes to the gift shop 2-3 days a week, signs copies of his book, and answers questions. If you buy his book, you get to have your picture taken with him. He was such a sweet man and his wife was there with him helping with the people.

When we left Mount Rushmore, we decided to take a different route back to the RV. We had heard about two scenic drives that many people take. One was called Iron Mountain Road and the other one was Needles Highway. We knew both of these roads were very curvy and had some tunnels. We chose Iron Mountain Road which is Highway 16A. You won’t believe the curves, tunnels, and scenic views!

We will be up on that bridge in a minute. The road makes a 360 degree turn here. There were several of these 360 turns along Highway 16A.

Zoom in and you will see Mount Rushmore from another far away angle.

When we got back to the RV, we rested a little while, did some chores, and ate some supper. Our plan was to go back to Mount Rushmore at night. The mountain looks SO different and beautiful at night! Did you know there is no admission charge to enter the park?! Also, the memorial is open from 5:00 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., and your parking receipt gets you back in for the nighttime lighting program at 9 p.m. Actually, when you pay for the parking, it is good for one full year!!

We haven’t totally decided where we are going tomorrow yet. I guess you will just have to come back to our travel blog and check it out.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about our adventures around the good ‘ole USA.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”