OK, so you’ve just arrived in Keystone -- how was the trip, by the way? -- Your bags are unpacked, and you’ve had a nice dinner in Keystone. Since Mount Rushmore is the most famous icon in the Black Hills, it seems logical you’d want to see if first. Besides, Rushmore looks its best in the morning light. It faces southeast, and in morning the faces have a three-dimensional quality that you don’t get at high noon.
Allow plenty of time, because Rushmore is more than just a granite carving. There’s the Presidential Trail, the Sculptor’s Studio, Carver’s Cafe, the Mount Rushmore Bookstore and audio tours. Often the amphitheater is used for citizenship ceremonies and other events. Also, Rushmore is a great place for people watching.
The Lincoln Borglum Museum is a very well-done display just below the Grand View Terrace. It really tells the story of the men who did the hard work of carving the memorial. You’ll see the honeycomb pattern drilled in the rock, the tools used by the carvers and great black and white photos taken during the carving.
Again, take your time. At the base of the mountain is a sprawling visitor center, museum, courtyard and retail businesses. Also, Native American artists sell their work at tables scattered throughout the facility.
As the sun sets, you might want to return to Mount Rushmore for the Lighting Ceremony. There’s a nice program that precedes it. (Bring a jacket — it gets cold at night.)