“Uh, You just kind of need to see it.”
The first time I found myself on that 30 minute (on top of 6+hours) journey, I was shocked to find out that Mount Rushmore is literally in the middle of a bunch of mountains. Beautiful mountains. It’s a short ride full of highways and signs, and tourist traps (even a couple failed ones)–certainly better than flat prairie or interstate traffic.
The first glimpse at those big heads is always particularly exciting though…So, are you squinting right now? Maybe you just leaned in a bit, right?
Yeah, that’s how it was for me, too. This time around, with Mama in tow, I realized she said the exact same things I was saying on the ride.
“Wow, it’s amazing, I can’t wait until we’re really close to it!”
Another 15 winding minutes go by. Finally, we arrive at the Parking Gate (Military Discount came through), and pull up to the historic Mount Rushmore. We’ve made it! Finally, Mount Rushmore, up close, and in person.
So here’s the thing about Mount Rushmore:
1) That herd of people in the background of my pictures is constant, and they’re standing at the wall that grants the “best” picture you can easily take with the dead prezzes. Be willing to wait it out for luck, be a semi-polite douche to get them out of your way, or take pictures in my half-assed way: with a dozen people floating in and out of the background.
2) So lets assume you get to the wall. It’s…um. It’s okay. I guess.
3) Wait so, you can’t get any closer???? Sure you can. But…you’ve got to walk a Presidential trail to do it. *Disclaimer* Both times I went here, a large part of this trail was closed, or I was just too much of a lazy tourist to do it. (I can already hear my middle-aged mother complaining about her knees now)
4) The good news: Some of the most exciting views of Mount Rushmore are outside of the park. I’m just getting started on this one. Both Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road (along with just about all of the crazy roads in this part of the Black Hills near the monument) have a dozen plus views that make you forget you ever stood at the park.
So, you might feel a little bit…disappointed at the actual Park.
Don’t be! Hike the Trail, check out the museum, stop in the gift shop and get some ice cream–You probably only spent a half day there.
After you head out, keep driving (slowly), and (if you’re a passenger) keep your eyes peeled on mountains around you, they’re full of surprises…