Basecamp: Keystone
Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The Monumental Loop

Keystone is a great home base for your Black Hills vacation. It’s centrally located, and there is a wide variety of lodging and dining options. We’ve outlined a few easy, eventful day trips. Begin and end each day in the shadow of Mount Rushmore. You can do the day trips in any order.

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.

Mount Rushmore:

From Keystone, head west on U.S. Highway 16A/S.D. 244. You can’t miss it. About 3 miles from Keystone, and you can see the carving pretty much from the edge of town.

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.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

There are 56 flags that represent 50 states, one district, three territories and two commonwealths at the Memorial.

Crazy Horse Memorial:

It’s 16 miles from Mount Rushmore. Head west on S.D. 244, then turn left on U.S. 385. You will see the massive carving-in-progress on your left. If you thought Mount Rushmore was big, you’ll be amazed by Crazy Horse Memorial. When finished, it will be 641 feet long and 563 feet high.

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.

1880 Train

1880 Train

The 1880 Train runs regularly between Hill City and Keystone.

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski’s studio displays are especially impressive. Wooden carvings, stone sculptures and other works have that distinctive Korczak style. He was especially adroit at capturing the movement, muscles and emotion of animal figures.

Hill City:

After Crazy Horse, you can head north to Hill City. Check out the ‘found object’ sculptures on Main Street or see dinosaur fossils at the Black Hills Geological Institute. Sample a variety of wines around town, many made from prairie staples such as rhubarb and chokecherry.

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.)

Things To See

At A Glance

More Itineraries