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Contact: Amy Bracewell, 605-574-3114
(Keystone, SD) – Park personnel at Mount Rushmore National Memorial are busy preparing the park for one of the country’s largest Independence Day celebrations. While memorial officials carefully monitor both weather and fire fuel conditions in advance of Friday’s fireworks display, visitors should plan to arrive early and be prepared for a full day of entertainment at Mount Rushmore. National Park Service facilities, including the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, will open at 8:00 am and the historic Sculptor’s Studio will open at 12:30 pm with ranger programs scheduled in the Studio throughout the afternoon.
“The staff at Mount Rushmore is working around the clock to prepare the memorial for our visitors,” said Mount Rushmore Superintendent Gerard Baker. “With everything coming together, we are looking forward to another spectacular celebration. Visitors should plan to arrive early and enjoy all of the entertainment and programs we have scheduled.”
In past years, the memorial parking garage has filled by mid-morning. The South Dakota Highway Patrol and Pennington County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand to direct vehicles to alternative parking locations once the parking garage is filled. Illegally parked vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. All vehicles will be screened before entering the memorial. Carpooling is strongly recommended. By late afternoon, the nearest parking may be in Keystone, necessitating a 3-mile hike to the memorial with an 800-foot elevation gain. The American Red Cross will have water stations at two locations along Highway 244 to help visitors stay hydrated. The South Dakota Highway Patrol and Mount Rushmore Law Enforcement Rangers will be closing the highway at 8:00 pm to all incoming traffic. This closure will allow wildland fire crews to prepare the fireworks fallout zone along the highway. Highway 244 will remain closed through the fireworks display and will reopen at the end of the event.
Visitors are asked to please be patient and expect delays as they arrive and depart the memorial. Enhanced security measures will be in place for the safety and security of the memorial and park visitors. All bags and coolers are subject to search upon entering the memorial. Visitors will also be screened at the security checkpoint. No personal fireworks, barbecue grills, or pets will be allowed at the memorial. No weapons are permitted within the boundaries of the park. No umbrellas or lawn chairs will be allowed in the amphitheater, although they will be allowed in adjacent viewing areas. Items left unattended will be confiscated.
Conditions permitting, the fireworks display is scheduled to begin at 9:20 pm. The National Weather Service out of Rapid City predicts Friday’s weather to be mostly cloudy with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms and a high of 78. Visitors are asked to be prepared by bringing rain gear, plenty of sunscreen, and water for hydration.
After the fireworks display, plan on extended delays as local law enforcement agencies conduct an organized and systematic dismissal of pedestrian traffic first and then vehicle traffic.
Local TV station KEVN, Black Hills Fox, will broadcast the fireworks live. Local FM radio station KKMK, Magic 93.9 will broadcast live from the memorial all day and simulcasting the firework’s patriotic soundtrack fro those wishing to view the fireworks from a distance.
Additional information on the Independence Day Celebration is available on the park web site at www.nps.gov/moru or by calling (605) 574-2523 and pressing option 5.