One of America’s best-known monuments, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is unarguably the linchpin of the Black Hills’ tourist circuit. It’s a beautiful fifty-mile drive south of Deadwood, though by far the most impressive approach is to follow Iron Mountain Road (US-16A) from Custer State Park. This gorgeous route runs seventeen miles up via three curly twists in the road called “pigtail bridges”, each an engineering and design triumph.
The memorial was created by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who chose the faces and heads of four certifiably great American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and his idol, Theodore Roosevelt.
Sixty years old when the project began in 1927, sculptor Borglum died shortly prior to the dedication of the last head – Roosevelt’s – in 1941. An incredible engineering feat, each head is about 60ft from chin to crown – by way of comparison, the Statue of Liberty’s head is just 17ft. The best times to view Rushmore are at dawn or dusk, when there are fewer people and better natural lighting.