on July 9, 2007
July 3 at Mount Rushmorewww.nps.gov/moruJuly 3 is the big bash at Mount Rushmore. Maybe so they don’t monopolize the crowds (20-30,000) on the 4th and leave other attractions people-less? At 10am, people were already holding spots for the fireworks, occupying themselves with coolers and card games. We cautious city slickers didn’t feel comfortable leaving our stuff out while we toured. So the experienced ones had the best places for the fireworks.Special events were on the Amphitheater stage all day. During the afternoon, "Abraham Lincoln" and/or "Teddy Roosevelt" were in one of the theaters.Coming early is important for a decent parking place. However, we talked to people who arrived about 3pm. They were told at the entry to the Rushmore road that there was no more ramp parking and they’d need to park 3 miles away and walk. So they decided to just drive past and see the mountain from the road, not trying to get in after all. At the ramp, they found out there were random places still available.After perching several hours on a rocky hillside, straining to keep from avalanching to the bottom, we realized that an even better place would be at our car on the top level of the ramp. There was a large screen showing events on the amphitheater stage. There were a couple of impressive flyovers of military planes.At 9:15, the fireworks began on top of the mountain, above the floodlit faces of the presidents. It was an amazing display, underwritten by private donations, not by taxpayers. I can hardly imagine a more stirring place for fireworks.One unexpected addition to the length of the day came after the fireworks. Ramp parkers were required to wait until the road was cleared to prevent massive jams. We left almost two hours later. I’m of two minds about recording these delays. If I’d heard all that beforehand, I wouldn’t have gone. But I am so glad I went. I just think anyone with small children should know how to plan their day.I don’t know what attendance is on a normal day. But some things are the same. Parking costs $8 and is a pass for the entire year. There are no other charges for entry in any part of the park. For a small charge there is an audio tour. We rented one audio device and took turns. There’s lots of interesting info, and for most of it, it isn’t necessary to be in a particular place to hear it effectively.There’s an informative introductory video. The sculptor’s studio holds a 1:12 model that the sculptor used to show workers what to do on the mountain. There’s a museum with info about the 4 presidents and about the creation of the sculpture. Our 11-year-old enjoyed filling in the "Junior Ranger" activities booklet—a workbook that is tailored to and available at all the National Parks, I believe.Note: Some things are NOT allowed: pets, personal fireworks, grilling.
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