National Park Spotlight: Camping Near Mount Rushmore

June 3, 2010
Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore
Photo by: Jaclyn Twidwell (Stock Exchange)

Thanks for dropping by AllCampgrounds! For years now, Mount Rushmore National Park has been the host of one of the greatest Fourth of July fireworks displays anywhere in the United States. And though that particular display is in doubt for 2010, there’s still no better place I can think of to spend the nation’s birthday than under the gaze of some of its most accomplished presidents, the man-made sculptural marvel that “put Rushmore on the map” and draws people to its amazing surroundings. Let’s talk Mount Rushmore!

A Little History

Just how did all those guys end up on top of that mountain? Getting Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln to these famous South Dakota peaks, over 5,500 feet high, was no mean feat. The idea was first thought up by, not surprisingly, a historian: Doane Robinson, who, in 1923, came up with it as a plan to drive tourism in South Dakota. Noted sculptor Gutzon Borglum was brought in on the project and chose the location; and it was President Coolidge whose input shaped the figures to be depicted.

With a crew of over 400 workers, Borglum worked for 13 years to complete the monument, under the supervision of Congress. In 1933, the National Park Service moved in to protect the area, but it wasn’t until late October in 1941 that the work was finally completed. Despite the amazing scope, challenges, and complexity of the project, nobody died in the labor, and the final bill came in just under $1 million – though, adjusted to today’s terms, that’s still a pretty penny! Rushmore has enticed tourists ever since; good job, Doane and company!

Tent Camping and RV Camping Parks Near Rushmore

The thing to remember about Rushmore is that there are no camp grounds or overnight RV facilities in the vicinity of the “big show”, the Rushmore Memorial itself. Luckily, there are plenty of camping opportunities nearby! Any of the sites listing below offer ultra-convenient camping near Mt. Rushmore, and some even provide shuttle service or tours.

Palmer Gulch: The Lodge at Palmer Gulch is a Kampgrounds of America location, one of the most developed and popular in that great franchise. It has 500 total tent camping and RV sites, including 50-amp sites with full hookup. There are over 50 cabins, a variety of lodge rooms, and even six “executive lodges” serviced by three meeting rooms. As for the amenities, you can enjoy a restaurant, two sets of pools, a water slide, mini-golf, and of course, nightly shuttles to Mt. Rushmore itself.

Rush-No-More RV Park: Offering full hookups at 30 or 50 amps and luxury sites stocked with gas grill, patio, and even hot tubs, Rush-No-More is a top-rated vacation destination right on the edge of the local national forest. “Weekly steak night”, free wireless internet and even a guest computer you can use at your leisure round out the special features. If you don’t feel like bringing the ol’ RV, cabins range from spartan sleepers all the way up to luxury surroundings worthy of a honeymoon.

Fort Wellkit Family Campground: Black Hills RV has a great assortment of tent camping sites on a range of trails and forested areas. Your RV is welcome in “big rig” sites that are just as versatile, with 50 amp pull-through accommodations. Fort Wellkit is convenient to horse riding at Custer State Park or National Forest, and of course, within a short journey of Rushmore. The camp grounds are known for their proximity to roaming buffalo, a hallmark of the American west that was very nearly wiped out.

Heartland Campground: At the “heart” of some of the area’s greatest attractions, this park is the host of the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally, which will be celebrating its historic 70th run in mid-August. Its facilities include 140 RV sites providing 20, 30, and 50 amp service, 10 sites that are over 75 feet long, and 16 cabins. For tent campers, there are 50 individual sites Everyone can enjoy cable TV, Internet, hot tub, and free swimming pool.

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