Mt Rushmore National Monument in the Blackhills of South Dakota is a major destination for vacationers from around the world. The monument is managed by the National Park Service and is free to visit but with a catch.
Many drive thousands of miles just to get here and drive up to the parking area with their annual National Park Pass in hand only to be told that the pass does not cover “parking”. The parking fee as of the date of this video is $11 per vehicle and if you ask the attendant they will politely tell you that there is no “free” parking available. It even appears that they have gone out of their way to make “free” parking all but impossible in the area with numerous no-parking, no-stopping, do not enter signs.
This video filmed in the summer of 2014 provides insight on how we successfully and legally parked for free within 1/4 mile of the visitor center. You can do it too but be warned that you will be parking along the main highway (the speed-limit in the area is only 25 mph) and walking along a dirt path on the side of the road. If you have small and hyper children or large and non-hyper adults it may be best to pay the parking fee. Otherwise it is a good way to “stick it to the man” that has racked up a monopoly on parking.
Sure they should be able to recoup the cost of construction for the amazing parking structure but at this point 25 years later it seems their coffers should be pretty flush and the original $17M construction cost more than covered. Let’s do the math: an average, on the low end, of 1M visitors per year with 4 per car so 250,000 cars per year. Multiply that by the previously lower fee of $10 per car and you get an annual income of $2.5M per year. Multiply this amount by 25 and you get, are you freaking kidding, $62.5M!!! On the low end!!! With 3M visitors last year at $11 per vehicle they brought in $8.25M in parking fees to “cover the cost of maintenance”. I didn’t notice any gold plated parking stalls…
The free parking areas are located west of the main parking structure. The first and closest is a paved pad on the right hand side of the road 1/4 mile past the last view of the parking area. Do not park in the paved parking sites on the left hand side; that used to be free but now requires a NPS “Administrative Pass” whatever the heck that means. If this area is full you continue down the road another 1/4 and around the bend to the “Profile View” turnout. there are parking stalls here along with ample room for RVs. You are further away from the facility but can make the hike easily if you are in shape.
Visit http://www.CampgroundViews.com to find, see, and share your camping adventures too and from the Blackhills. With real videos submitted by travelers like you it is easy to get the true picture of what a place will be like during your visit.