During the summer months 5,000 people a day come to see the faces of four presidents – Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson – carved into the Black Hills in South Dakota. On an annual basis, the famous sculptures attract 3 million people from all over the world. While it is an awe-inspiring sight, there are other family-friendly outings to enjoy near Mount Rushmore as well.
For adventurous families who like to go off the beaten path, here are for more places to explore when visiting Mount Rushmore.
1. Jewel Cave National Monument
Known as the third longest cave in the world, over 190 miles of Jewel Cave National Monument have been explored. Each year, an average of three miles of new passageways are discovered, making it seem like an endless maze of underground tunnels.
Four different ranger-guided tours are given but only one is suitable for children as the tours are considered moderately taxing. Children are welcome to go on the Discovery Talk tour, which is also wheelchair accessible.
2. Badlands National Park
Described as a barren plateau, the Badlands are unique-looking tracts of heavily eroded land with little vegetation, which were aptly named by the Lakota people because of the extreme temperatures and rough terrain. When the French-Canadian fur trappers came through they referred to it as “bad lands to travel through.”
Now, there is a 39-loop that goes through the Badlands National Park on South Dakota Highway 240. The scenic byway enables travelers to see breathtaking rock formations and a variety of wildlife including pronghorn antelope and buffalo.
3. Rushmore Tramway Adventures
For families who want to do something a little more exciting, Rushmore Tramway Adventures is located just 2 miles from Mount Rushmore in Keystone, SD. One of the most recent additions is an obstacle course called Aerial Adventure Park, which consists of suspended bridges, log ladders, and 11 ziplines that go through the forest.
Other attractions at Tramway Adventures include a scenic chairlift, an alpine slide, an 800-foot zipline, and a 60-foot high jump tower.
4. The Stables at Palmer Gulch
Located in the Black Hills National Forest, the Stables at Palmer Gulch is the perfect place for families who want a true western experience. Guided horseback trail rides, an authentic chuckwagon dinner show, horse-drawn wagon rides, and top-notch cowboy entertainment will help create a countless number of family vacation memories.
With so much to see and do near Mount Rushmore, vacationing families will have a hard time leaving.