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Legendary sculptor Gutzon Borglum searched South Dakota's Black Hills in the mid-1920s for a suitable place to carve his life's masterwork: the four towering faces of the country's most illustrious leaders, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Borglum found his perfect canvas in Mount Rushmore, with a suitably large southeast-facing massif for capturing the sun's rays most of the day. From 1927 to his death in 1941, Borglum guided teams of drillers and dynamiters to craft the four presidents into the granite, with his son, Lincoln Borglum, carrying the torch after his father's passing. The faces ...

Legendary sculptor Gutzon Borglum searched South Dakota's Black Hills in the mid-1920s for a suitable place to carve his life's masterwork: the four towering faces of the country's most illustrious leaders, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Borglum found his perfect canvas in Mount Rushmore, with a suitably large southeast-facing massif for capturing the sun's rays most of the day. From 1927 to his death in 1941, Borglum guided teams of drillers and dynamiters to craft the four presidents into the granite, with his son, Lincoln Borglum, carrying the torch after his father's passing. The faces were completed in October 1941, just before Pearl Harbor and the United States' entry into World War II.

Today, the Lincoln Borglum Museum is one of several terrific attractions on site at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Ranger-led walks and talks are available year-round (most frequently in the summer) and a short hiking trail offers one of the best viewpoints to take in the Borglums' legacy. Rock climbing is the extreme sport of choice — but not on the sculpture. Just a few miles southwest, the Crazy Horse Memorial is a must-see for fans of oversized sculpture: the 60-foot faces at Mount Rushmore are just one-tenth the size of this colossal work of art, which is still in progress.

Eric Peterson
About the Expert

Eric Peterson has written and contributed to numerous Frommer’s guidebooks covering the American West, including Montana & Wyoming, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, and Texas.

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Eric Peterson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer