Wondering which Mount Rushmore movie scene to reenact during your vacation in the Black Hills?

With rumors of a Mount Rushmore secret room and the monument being used as a coverup for government conspiracies swirling about pop culture, it’s hard not to get swept up in the theatrics of it all.

But it’s not hard to imagine why the creators of North by Northwest and National Treasure 2 picked Mount Rushmore as the backdrop for the most intense moments of their movies. I mean, just look at it.

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So important. Much wow.

Mount Rushmore Movie Scene Movies filmed at Mount Rushmore

I made my sister pull over to take this picture.

North by Northwest Mount Rushmore Movie Scene

I took a film class focusing primarily on Hitchcock my senior year of college and North by Northwest was by far my favorite movie we studied. I loved the pace. I loved the hijinks. I loved the soundtrack (the iconic theme definitly made an appearance on my Instagram story the day of my visit).

I loved the film so much that I was disappointed that while visiting Mount Rushmore, I learned that the average visitor isn’t allowed up onto the cliff face. Apparently, only the people who work on cleaning the monument are allowed to do that…so my dream of reenacting this heroic Cary Grant stunt was crushed.

You can, however, have lunch in the Carver Cafè, home of the infamous North by Northwest surprise shooting scene. Although the cafè has been remodeled since it’s appearance in the movie, it still has the marvelous floor-to-ceiling windows which offer views of the Mount Rushmore that can’t be beat.

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The Carver Cafè dining room.

Mount Rushmore Movie Scene Movies filmed at Mount Rushmore

The same great view! Hasn’t changed since 1959.

National Treasure Mount Rushmore Movie Scene

I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence. Oh whoops, wrong movie! The much acclaimed (lols) sequel National Treasure 2 was also partially filmed around Mount Rushmore. There’s just something about big stone presidents carved into a mountain that screams “PUT ME IN YOUR MOVIE” I guess.

I was actually pretty excited about walking where Nicolas Cage walked. I mean, he’s the guy everyone loves to hate. The Nickelback of actors.

But once again, the film features people who definitly didn’t pay the $10 entrance fee just casually walking along the TOP of the monument, instead of the lovely walking paths down below. So I definitly didn’t get to walk where Nicholas Cage walked.

Such a disappointment.

My main goal in life is now to create something so culturally and politically important that I am one of the people who is allowed to climb up the faces of Mount Rushmore. Who knows, maybe this post will be that thing.

But I really doubt it!

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Mount Rushmore Movie Scene Movies filmed at Mount Rushmore

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When’s the best time to visit Mount Rushmore?

Spring break! While spending the 4th of July (or any other part of your summer vacation) visiting Mount Rushmore might seem like the perfect, quintessential American vacation idea, the Black Hills tend to be hot and crowded all summer. Save yourself. Go in the spring.

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Queen of the World

The Best Time To Visit Mount Rushmore

Is a Mount Rushmore spring break excursion a good idea?

Short answer: Yes! Mount Rushmore is awesome during the off season. Book your tickets right now. Immediately.

Long answer: Yes, but there are some things to consider. Like the following…

best time to visit Mount Rushmore best time to visit mt rushmore

A completely empty viewing platform

Do you prefer having National Parks basically all to yourself?

The reason spring break is the best time to visit Mount Rushmore is because basically no one else is there. When my sister and I visited in March, we essentially had a private tour of the park and surrounding areas. This is a major plus because it meant

  • We didn’t wait in line for food.
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Plenty of seats to choose from.

The food at Mount Rushmore is actually delicious! It’s called Carver’s Cafè and for reasonable prices (à la Chilis, etc.) you can get homestyle meals like chicken, meat loaf, green beans, roasted potatoes, etc.

The view of the monument from the cafe’s floor-to-ceiling window’s can’t be beat AND when visiting Mount Rushmore in the springtime, you don’t have to fight anyone for a table.

  • The Bathrooms were clean AF.
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Hello, Mr. Presidents.

I would assume that Mount Rushmore is clean all year round, BUT there is something to be said to visiting when thousands of people aren’t using the bathrooms every single day. And, if I remember correctly, the restrooms were heated. Ideal.

  • We got the best parking spot. 
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Where should we park?

While the Mount Rushmore Hours during the winter and spring are from 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM, when my sister and arrived at a little past 9:00 AM, it was still nearly completely empty. We paid the $10 for the annual parking pass and had our pick of the parking spots.

If you visit in the summer, especially near the 4th of July holiday, I imagine that parking would be way more competitive.

  • We got tourist-free photos.
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Sunny day in March 🙂

This was probably the best part of our Mount Rushmore trip. While I wasn’t too big into nabbing the perfect Instagram at the time, it was still so nice to not have to fight our way to the front to take a photo of the monument, or deal with 27 other tourists plus their dog crashing our photos.

It was just me, my sister, and the Mount Rushmore presidents.

  • We got to take our time.
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Sister and Presidents.

I’m not sure how many people view South Dakota and the Mount Rushmore area as a top tourist destination, but it’s probably one of my favorite places that I’ve ever been, simply because of how relaxed it was. My sister and I got to wander around the grounds at our own pace.

The lack of crowds made it quiet and peaceful, so whether we wanted to sit down in the middle of the path and just stare at the mountain or skip down walkways at top speed gigging for our Instagram Stories, we had the freedom to do so.

We did both, just in case you were wondering.

Are you willing to be a little chilly?

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It was actually really hard to get up on that ledge!

The only “downside” I can think of for visiting Mount Rushmore for spring break is the weather. If you already live in the Northern USA, or are coming from another part of the world that actually has winter, then the temperatures in the 20s and 30s Fahrenheit will make you feel right at home.

Coming from Texas, the weather was colder than I was used to, but wrapped up in my down coat, I didn’t mind. You should also invest in these special gloves that allow you to use your smartphone without taking them off. Genius.

Mount Rushmore Recap:

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This goat was NOT friendly y’all

The best time to visit Mount Rushmore is for spring break (i.e. late February through early April).

Bring a sturdy coat.

Do not touch the mountain goats.

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