Bob tells me the whole reason this road trip came to be was because we wanted to see Mount Rushmore. Yellowstone was definitely a bucket list item too and all the rest was just "icing on the cake". Our first glimpse of the famous memorial was as we were coming around a curve in the road on our way actually to see Crazy Horse. It was obviously a good viewing point as there was a small turnout to save on accidents from people stopping for a picture. A little later on we found a viewpoint for the profile of Washington. The sun was shining and we were enjoying another good tour day.
After our visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial, we drove back and parked in the parking garage at Mount Rushmore. (There is no fee for the memorial but there is an $11 parking charge.) The garage was pretty empty. One more reason for enjoying places in the shoulder season--that time just before and just after the summer tourist season and of course just before the weather turns wintry.
We strolled down the avenue of flags from all the states, district, and territories. The avenue leads directly to the four presidents and it is an awe inspiring walk. I got pictures of the four as we stood directly in front of them and then we took the walk of presidents just below the sculpture and enjoyed some of the displays and information posted along the way. There is a small museum where the models for the sculpture are housed as well as pictures of some of the work in progress.
After I made sure I had my shots while the light was still good, we went into the information center and stopped to look at the video. Most national parks have videos and most of them give you a good overview of the park or memorial or monument.
The idea for the memorial actually originated with a man named Doane Robinson who wanted to build an attraction that would bring visitors to his great state of South Dakota. Several others picked up the idea and helped with fund raising. On the history page of the NPS there is also a copy of a letter from the man the mountain is named for, Charles E. Rushmore. It is all quite fascinating but even more so is the actual carving of the mountain done by the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln.
Borglum was actually working on the carving of Stone Mountain near Atlanta, GA, when he was approached and asked to take on the project at Rushmore. It was Borglum's decision to use the four presidents for the memorial. "The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt."
Washington was chosen as the father of our nation, having fought for our independence and helping to lay the foundation for our democracy as our first president. Jefferson is honored as our third president and for his role in writing the Declaration of Independence and expanding the borders with the Louisiana Purchase. It is only fitting that Theodore Roosevelt be there since he was so instrumental in conserving much of the lands in our country that have become our national parks, that and his contribution to the building of the Panama Canal. It goes without saying that Abraham Lincoln should be honored as the president who brought our country through its greatest trial, the Civil War.
At the cafe, we ate a fast food dinner rather than travel away and back again to see the evening lighting program. Thanks to the tips on Tripadviser, we snagged a couple of seats early in the back row that has a wall behind it so we could have a seat with a back rest. We sat for almost an hour and watched the other seats in the amphitheater fill up. The stage area has a large screen and after an introduction by the park ranger, a video was shown and then veterans in the audience were all invited to come forward onto the stage and participate in the lowering of the flag.
At the point in the program where the lights came on and the faces on the mountain were illuminated, there was a collective intake of breath just before cameras started clicking. If you visit the memorial be sure to make time for the evening ceremony.
It would be late when we arrived at the hotel but our room was ready for us and we were ready for bed. It had been a long day but a good one. Tomorrow would be fun and extremely interesting.