Let me start by making a confession. I…am…Canadian.
Yes, I said it. Whew. Now that I’ve come clean about that, I have another (not so little) secret. I love the US. Seriously. I have been obsessed with the US since I was a teenager and traveled to Philadelphia for the first time. I was pretty sure I belonged there and planned on moving across the border as soon as I could.
That didn’t work out. Turns out it’s kind of hard to move to America, and it’s a lot easier to just stay wherever you call home. But I still had dreams of seeing the things that the US had to offer. I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, the Space Needle, the Golden Gate Bridge, and yes…I wanted to see Mount Rushmore.
Mount Rushmore always represented the epitome of American sightseeing to me. It’s faces of presidents carved into a mountain. Like really. How much more American can you get? So, as we started our journey toward the Dakotas, I was starting to get really excited.
Unfortunately, there were several factors that slowly let the air out of my proverbial tires until I came to the conclusion that I just can’t recommend going to see Mount Rushmore.
4 reasons why I can’t recommend Mount Rushmore:
1. The drive
Mount Rushmore is smack dab in the middle of nothing and zilch. If you’re going that way anyway (like we were), then you might as well stop by and check it out. But I definitely would not suggest going out of your way just for that.
2. The price
Technically, seeing the monument is free. But parking is $11.00. So if you don’t bring your car and decide to start your hike up the mountain at 3 am to make sure you catch a glimpse of it before they close it down for the night, then it’s totally free.
I’m exaggerating a bit. But it felt a little like extortion to charge that much to park in a lot for 15 minutes. And they know that nobody is just going to turn around and be like “Nope, screw the faces in the mountain … that’s too gosh darn much.” Everyone is going to grumble about it and then hand over their credit card because there’s no point in even being there if not to see this monument.
That being said, on the drive up the mountain, there’s a few areas to pull off the road to see Rushmore before you make it to the place where they will ask you to empty out your life savings to pay for parking. The last pullout that you hit before the parking lot has an awesome view, and is totally worth stopping and taking a picture from there (for free) and skipping the $11.00 view.
3. Dogs aren’t allowed
This has been a problem all along and I’ve come to expect it now; but it’s still frustrating every time I see that “No Dogs” sign. You can have them outside the actual monument area but don’t even think about trying to get a picture of Fido in front of those faces.
4. It’s only average
The fourth and final reason why I can’t recommend Mount Rushmore was that it’s a little underwhelming. Yes, it’s a feat of human perseverance and all that. It is quite picturesque, but it’s a lot smaller than I realized and honestly…
…it’s just okay.
It didn’t take my breath away. There wasn’t a really awesome story behind it. It was fine. And if someone asked about it, “fine” is pretty much the only word that I could really come up with for the entire experience.
** A Bonus Rant!