Exploring the Best Things to Do Near Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a world-famous attraction located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, United States. This historic site features the faces of four of the most important and influential American presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt – carved into the granite face of a mountain. 

Mount Rushmore draws millions of visitors every year, who come to marvel at the skill of the sculptors and learn about the history and significance of this American icon. However, there is much more to see and do in the area beyond the monument itself. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in and around Mount Rushmore.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is the centerpiece of the Black Hills region, and the main reason why so many visitors travel to the area. Here are some things to know about visiting the monument:

History and significance: Mount Rushmore was carved over a period of 14 years, from 1927 to 1941, by the sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his team of workers. The monument was designed to honor four of the most important and influential presidents in American history, and it continues to serve as a symbol of American values and patriotism today.

Tips for visiting: To make the most of your visit, it’s recommended that you arrive early in the morning, especially during the peak tourist season (May-September). Wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather, as you will be doing a lot of walking. Be sure to check out the museum, which offers exhibits on the history and construction of the monument.

Recommended activities and attractions: In addition to viewing the monument itself, there are many other things to see and do in the area. The evening lighting ceremony is a must-see, featuring a patriotic program and the lighting of the monument. You can also take a scenic drive through the Black Hills or visit nearby attractions like Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, or the town of Deadwood.

In the next sections, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in the area beyond Mount Rushmore itself.

Custer State Park

Custer State Park is a sprawling natural area located just south of Mount Rushmore. The park encompasses over 71,000 acres of scenic landscapes, including rolling hills, forests, and grasslands. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and attractions here:

Activities and Attractions: Custer State Park offers over 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as scenic drives through the park. The park’s many lakes and streams offer opportunities for fishing and boating. Horseback riding and rock climbing are also popular activities in the park.

Wildlife: Custer State Park is known for its abundant wildlife. Visitors can see bison, pronghorn, elk, and mountain goats up close by taking a guided wildlife tour or attending one of the park’s many educational programs.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is a unique and stunning natural area located about an hour east of Mount Rushmore. Here’s what you need to know about visiting the park:

History and Significance: Badlands National Park is home to a unique landscape of rugged rock formations and deep canyons. The park has been inhabited by various Native American tribes for thousands of years and is now a protected area for visitors to explore.

Activities and Attractions: Badlands National Park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. Visitors can explore the park’s many trails and take in the stunning views of the unique landscape. The park also features a number of ranger-led programs and educational exhibits.

Tips for Visiting: Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the park can be hot and dry during the summer months. It’s also important to be aware of any weather conditions, as the park can experience sudden and severe thunderstorms.

In the next section, we’ll explore some other nearby attractions in the area, including the town of Deadwood and the Black Hills National Forest.

Crazy Horse Memorial

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a massive monument located about 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore. Here are some things to know about visiting the memorial:

History and Significance: The Crazy Horse Memorial is a work in progress that has been under construction since 1948. The monument is being carved into Thunderhead Mountain and is intended to honor the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse. When completed, it will be the largest mountain carving in the world.

Activities and Attractions: Visitors can view the monument from several vantage points and take part in a variety of cultural and educational programs at the site. The memorial features a museum that offers exhibits on Native American history and culture, as well as a gift shop and restaurant.

Tips for Visiting Mount Rushmore: The Crazy Horse Memorial is open year-round, but hours may vary depending on the season. Visitors are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather, as much of the site is outdoors.

Black Hills National Forest

The Black Hills National Forest is a vast and beautiful natural area that covers over 1.2 million acres in southwestern South Dakota. Here are some highlights of the forest:

Activities and Attractions: The Black Hills National Forest offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, camping, and horseback riding. Visitors can also take scenic drives through the forest and visit attractions like the Pactola Reservoir or the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.

Wildlife: The forest is home to a variety of wildlife, including bison, elk, and mountain lions. Visitors can see these animals up close by taking a guided wildlife tour or attending one of the park’s many educational programs.

Tips for Visiting: The Black Hills National Forest is open year-round, but some areas may be closed during the winter months. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions, especially at higher elevations, and bring appropriate clothing and gear.

Other Nearby Attractions

In addition to the attractions we’ve already discussed, there are many other things to see and do in the Mount Rushmore area. Here are a few more attractions if you run out of ideas:

Deadwood: This historic town, located about 45 minutes from Mount Rushmore, offers a glimpse into the Wild West. Visitors can explore the town’s many historic buildings and museums, or try their luck at one of the many casinos.

Mammoth Site: This unique attraction, located in Hot Springs, features a working paleontological dig site where visitors can see the remains of prehistoric mammoths and other animals.

Spearfish Canyon: This scenic canyon is a popular spot for hiking, fishing, and rock climbing. Visitors can take in the stunning views of waterfalls, canyons, and wildlife.


The Mount Rushmore area offers a wealth of things to see and do for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or outdoor recreation, there is something for everyone here. From the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial to the stunning natural beauty of the Black Hills and surrounding areas, this region is truly a must-see destination