Rushmore Cave is where you are sure to find adventure!
There are scenic cave tours, cave spelunking, the amazing Soaring Eagle Zipline Ride and the Gunslinger 7-D Interactive Ride! Rushmore Cave is the closest cave to Mount Rushmore and the home of the legendary BIG room. The one-hour guided walking tour winds through a series of rooms and passages, and finally arrives at the most stunning finale - the BIG room. This room is one of the largest decorated cavern rooms seen on any area cave tour. Our big room has an extraordinarily large number of stalactites dangling from its ceilings and walls. Mighty columns, stalagmites and massive flowstones, along with exquisite displays of ribbons, draperies and helictites adorn this and other rooms as well.
Open May through October. We honor a variety of discounts for all travelers, as well as special rates and services for groups, schools and tour companies.
Our tours are family oriented with a special emphasis on revealing the secrets of the cave in a manner that is interesting and fun. We can modify the content, route or pace to meet the needs of the visitors. Many visitors with special needs may successfully tour the cave. We offer a written version of the tour for the hearing impaired. The visually impaired may enjoy the cave with the assistance of a close friend. The gift shop is wheelchair accessible by means of our service road. The cave is partially wheelchair accessible. The main passages of the cave contain numerous stairs and narrow spots. However, our 400 foot access tunnel slopes at a gentle incline to an area of the cave where several passages meet. We offer visitors a complimentary underground experience to this junction area. Call ahead (605) 255-4384 for information and instructions.
In the mid-1870s, the government sent Professor Walter Jenny into the Black Hills to study its geology. Legend has it that Jenny pulled up on a rosebush and found gold clinging to its roots. Supposedly, that episode led to early prospectors who searched for Jennys rosebush site, and in the process found Rushmore Cave. This c. 1935 photograph (shown below) shows an early entrance to the cave.
Living the American Dream, Lester "Si" and Ruth Pullen, a couple of farm kids from Iowa, arrived in the Black Hills in 1950 looking for a place to build a future for themselves and their children. As luck would have it, they landed a job as cave managers in the Northern Black Hills. Their life long adventures in tourism became a reality when they put their small savings down on a "hole in the ground" called Rushmore Cave.
Then the work began... painting signs by fireplace light, carving out a new entrance with a pick and shovel. Si awoke at dawn each morning to grade the approximate six miles of dirt road from Hayward to Keystone with Ruth following close behind in their car to remove by hand the loose rocks which the old grader had kicked up. The couple worked hard to draw visitors to their gem inside a mountain. They drove a tunnel from the surface on a decline to the heart of this limestone cave.
Starting in 1952 tours were given by kerosene lanterns 24 hours a day, as every dollar was precious! Cement was hand carried back into the far reaches of the cave in old inner tubes slung over strong arms, to build needed steps. Wires were laid and carefully camouflaged to add electric lighting in 1956. These two pioneers in the Black Hills Tourism Industry reached the American Dream and it lives today in their children and grandchildren at Beautiful Rushmore Cave. In this c. 1955 photograph,(below) Ruth Pullen looks at stalactites inside the cave.