Updated: Nov 9, 2020
After our amazing hike around Devil’s Tower, on our early summer road trip, we headed east further into the Black Hills. We checked into our hotel in Keystone, South Dakota before making our way up to Mount Rushmore.
Arriving at Mount Rushmore just in time to grab some ice cream and good seats we stayed that evening for the lighting ceremony. If you’ve never been to the Mount Rushmore lighting ceremony it’s well worth participating in.
A ranger gives the ceremonial speech reminding the audience of the history of the presidents whose faces are carved in the mountainside and how their stories remain relevant to today. They then play the National Anthem.
My only criticism of the ceremony comes at this point.
Although I know the National Anthem and I would expect US citizens to know it (because it’s sung at every single sporting event and major gathering) I wouldn’t expect the thousands of visitors if not more who come from all over the world each year to know it. The park’s recording only plays the music for the anthem but not the lyrics. This also makes it difficult for those trying to sing along throughout the park because the acoustics aren’t great for harmony. Needless to say, I think they should play the lyrics too but maybe that’s just personal preference 😂
We headed back to the hotel that night excited to come up again the next day and hike the Presidential Trail.
The next morning we spent in Keystone, walking around their downtown area. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with what they had to offer. The shops were very tourist-oriented which is fine but 5 t-shirt shops, 4 old fashioned photoshops, and every other knick-knack shop you can think of in-between more focused on the motorcycle audience. The only place I really liked was the coffee/wine shop, Grapes and Grinds. The coffee was delicious and they have a playground outside for kids. The wine they were selling was from a local winery, Prairie Berry Winery, all of their wines have fun names and interesting flavors. We didn’t try any of them personally but the option is certainly there. They also had one of the only clean bathrooms we walked into South Dakota.
Finishing up our morning exploration we headed back to Mount Rushmore. While we’ve been to this national monument on several occasions we had always gotten there to late in the day, or there was construction, or something else going on so we’d never hiked the Presidential Trail. The hiking trail has 422 stair steps one-way. It hikes right up beneath Mount Rushmore so you can get some really cool close up pictures!
It certainly doesn’t feel like 422 stair steps but I would definitely bring water and a snack. Along the way, it leads to an interpretive center that goes into more of the in-depth history behind the construction of Mount Rushmore which was really interesting.
The hike really didn’t take us much more than an hour and the trail ended right next to the restrooms.
From there we traveled over to one of the neighboring towns where the 1880 Train carries visitors back and forth from Keystone. This is one of my favorite activities in South Dakota!
On our way there we drove past the still under construction Chief Crazy Horse whose visage is being carved into a mountain much like Mount Rushmore.
For lunch, we stopped at The Mill Pizza place. Where they have the best pizza, in my opinion, is probably a 150-mile radius. With the perfect amount of cheese, sauce, delicious crust, and flavorful toppings you can’t go wrong! The only thing I didn’t like about the restaurant was how close together the tables were and the seeming awkwardness of having a conversation at your table.
After that, we headed home! It was a short but exciting weekend and I know we’ll be going back again!
Thank you, fellow adventurers! You can follow the lilmissbearpaw blog page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @lilmissbearpaw for sneak peeks into upcoming posts and my adventures. This will also be a great place to share your own adventures!