The Obligatory Trip to Mt. Rushmore: National Treasure or Tourist Trap?

Mount Rushmore seems to inspire interesting reactions in people. To some, it’s an important historic landmark and a national treasure. To others, it’s just four heads on a mountain, a pointless tourist trap.

Even if you hold the latter view, visiting Rushmore is still an experience. Construction on the South Dakota memorial began in 1927, eventually resulting in the giant heads of George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. Poor Teddy – everyone forgets about him!

Mt Rushmore

I found that when I took pictures of Rushmore, my camera’s face detection recognized the heads of Washington and Jefferson but not Lincoln and Roosevelt. Weird!

There’s a short hike you can take to get closer to the mountain, but why would you want to, when you can go hike in the nearby Black Hills or Badlands National Park instead?

Rushmore is worth seeing if you happen to be in the area. I would never recommend making it a primary destination. But if you go with a positive attitude, you can make it fun. I highly recommend trying to make yourself the fifth head.

History buffs can read all the exhibits and learn about the history of Mount Rushmore and its four presidents. Stop by here, absolutely. You’ll get to see an American landmark and check it off your travel bucket list. Just don’t build an entire summer vacation around coming to Rushmore. And make sure to stop by the Crazy Horse monument while you’re in South Dakota!

How do you feel about Mt. Rushmore?

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About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. love that bottom picture. when i was a kid i lived in south dakota, and me and my dad used to go ice fishing inthe black hills near the monument. i think we went to see the heads a couple of times before we moved due to the unrelenting boredom of SD

      1. for sure. my dad loves fishing so we were always out there. we used to “hunt” for nightcrawlers the night before we went fishing all the time (except of course when the ground was frozen over.). good times.

  2. living in SD (although 400 miles away from Mount Rushmore) I’ve been there several times. Never once did I think to make myself the 5th head. Now I need to go west river again!

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