It’s hard to imagine a trip through the Western National Parks without a stop at that most classic of American symbols - Mount Rushmore.
Designed and sculpted by Gutzon Borglum (who also sculpted Stone Mountain outside Atlanta, GA), the sculpture at Mount Rushmore was intended to celebrate America and its ideals. Although Borglum originally only intended the mountain to hold the faces of two men – Washington and Lincoln . . .
. . . he eventually settled on four presidents that symbolized the foundation and birth (Washington), the growth and expansion (Jefferson), the preservation and restoration (Lincoln), and the conservation and economic growth (Roosevelt) of the United States.
We arrived EARLY at Mount Rushmore allowing us to beat the crowds that quickly formed later in the morning and purchased an audio tourthat directed us to stops along the 1/2-mile Presidential Trail. If you’re short on time, I’d recommend a quick walk along the Avenue of Flags . . .
to the Grand View Terrace, where you can get some excellent shots. However, if you have a little more time, stop into the Lincoln Borglum (Borglum’s son named for President Lincoln) Museum where you can learn how Mount Rushmore was created over a span of 14 years from 1927 to 1941 through interactive displays and old film footage.
Walking along the Presidential Trail, we learned more about the sculpture and in particular, its controversy for defacing what the Native Americans considered a sacred mountain. To ease some of the tensions, there is a small Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Heritage Village at the half-way point of the trail where we explored some of the traditions and items from the tribes.
The Presidential Trail loops around past the Sculptor’s Studio – well worth a short stop to see Borglum’s original model/design for Mount Rushmore and the original Borglum View Terrace, which became too small to handle the crowds of visitors.
By the time we finished, the crowds were intense and we stopped for an early lunch at the excellent Carvers Cafe (serving healthy salads for mom and pizza/burgers for the guys).
Seventy places visited, 430 to go!