Elevation: 5,725 ft
GPS: 43.881, -103.462 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 420,333 total · 2,996/month
Shared By: Andy Busse on Nov 14, 2007 with improvements by MELINDA
Admins: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Mike Madsen, Mark Rafferty
45°F 7°C
66°F - 47°F 19°C - 8°C
Memorial Day
53°F - 39°F 12°C - 4°C
47°F - 39°F 8°C - 4°C
58°F - 41°F 14°C - 5°C
64°F - 44°F 18°C - 7°C
63°F - 44°F 17°C - 7°C
Access Issue: Check NPS for Closures Details


Mt. Rushmore National Memorial climbing offers amazing pegmatite granite climbing that ranges from 10' boulders to over 600' traditional routes all with great access. The area has climbing on every aspect, allowing the season to run from spring to fall with an occasional winter day (South Dakota weather depending). Rock quality is generally very good, as is most protection.

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial Climbers Guide by Vernon R. Phinney (Out Of Print)

The Needles Of Rushmore by Andrew Busse and Andrew Burr 2012 is the best and newest guide to the area.

Free Camping: Wrinkled Rock
Main Hub: Rapid City

Getting There

From: Mt. Rushmore National Memorial Entrance stoplight.
Head west on SD-244 Peter Norbeck Scenic Hwy, away from Keystone for approx 1.1 mi. There will be a shoulder pull-off on the right hand side of the road. This is the Emancipation/ Inner Marker Parking Area.

Marker/Monster Parking Area, continue up the road approx (350') to approx the 1.2 mile mark from the entrance, to another shoulder pull-off on the left side of the road. There is a climbers sign-in kiosk at the entrance.

South Seas/Chopping Block Paved Parking Lot is approx (.4 mi) further up the road at approx the 1.6 mile mark from the entrance located adjacent to the Mt Rushmore Memorial Sign. There are climber sign-in kiosks on both sides of the road. SS is on the NE side of the road and Chopping Block is on the SW side of the road.

Wrinkled Rock Free Campground is another (.1 mi) up the road on the right at approx the 1.7 mile mark from the entrance, designated with a sign.

Breezy Point, continue up 244 an additional (.2 mi); it is on the right and also signed, it is located at approx the 1.9 mile mark from the entrance light.

Web Link to Google Map:

747 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

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Classic Climbing Routes at Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Second Hand Rose Arete
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Weird Water
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Trad, Sport
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Shark's Breath
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Sport 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Bolts for Bobs
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Star Dancer
Sport, TR
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Garfield Goes To Washington
Trad 3 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Pointy Little Devil
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Valdez Overhang
Sport, TR
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Baba Cool
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Pelican's Dike-ination
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Mr. Critical
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Second Hand Rose Arete S Seas > Hornets Nest
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Sport
Solitaire S Seas > Borneo
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
Weird Water Magna Carta > Marker > Middle Marker Area
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Gossamer Magna Carta > Monster North > Picture Window
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, Sport
Shark's Breath S Seas > Sharks Fin
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
Waves S Seas > Shipyard Rock
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport 2 pitches
Bolts for Bobs S Seas > Borneo
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Star Dancer Magna Carta > Marker > Middle Marker Area
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport, TR
Garfield Goes To Washington Emancipation > White House Wall
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 3 pitches
Pointy Little Devil Magna Carta > Monster North > Shakers
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Valdez Overhang Chopping Block > Chopping Block
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport, TR
Evergreen Chopping Block > Pine Tree Rock
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Baba Cool Chopping Block > Chopping Block
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Sport
Pelican's Dike-ination S Seas > Borneo
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Mr. Critical S Seas > Hornets Nest
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport
More Classic Climbs in Mount Rushmore National Memorial »

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season


Andy Busse
Rapid City, SD
Andy Busse   Rapid City, SD
Rushmore Route INFO:

Please submit any info if you would like it included in the new book using the following format as best as possible.

Formation Name (Range ###’ - ###’)
Location (GPS N##°##.### W###°##.###): Describe the formation area.
Description: As needed.
Approach: Try to use only landmarks, cardinal directions, and distances in ft.
Descent: If Walk-Off, how, where. Rappel (2 ropes if needed) (Anchor Type)

Rating **** Route Name (Trad/Mixed/Sport / Length)
Description: (Magnetic Facing) Route description.
Protection: Cams: __-_”, Chocks, Micro-Chocks, _ bolts.
Descent: If different from formation descent.
(FA: First Ascent Party; YR Ground Up iff*)


AB Jul 2, 2009
Phoenix, AZ
TravisK   Phoenix, AZ
Here's the latest I've found regarding climbing regulations for any folks from not around the area (myself included).
NPS Regulations Jul 4, 2011
Mikel Cronin
Rapid City, SD
Mikel Cronin   Rapid City, SD
Here is the latest and greatest on Spearfish Canyon, The VC and Other Black Hills Limestone. There has been another delay on the printing. So Sharpend and I have worked out a deal on the e-books. I am now selling e-books for the same price of $28.00. So if you have prepaid for a book already I will give your contact information to Sharpend and they will send you the e-book link then you will get a hard copy when they arrive. If you want an early e-book, give me your email so I can invoice you and get an e-book on the way to you. If you have any questions on this deal please contact me. Remember 5% of sales through me goes to the local bolt and anchor repair fund. My contact info can be found atblackhillsclimbingguide.com Jul 29, 2011
Mt. Rushmore is looking to revamp their climbing management policy regarding parking along the highway (Emancipation, Monster, Marker), the trails to the climbs themselves, and possibly re-writing the overall management plan in conjunction with the Forest Service to cover all areas of the Rushmore climbing area. Bruce Weisman from MORU is coming to the BHCC meeting this Wed. to discuss the plan with climbers and to get input as they are in the planning stages at this point and are looking for input during a public comment period until the 28th of Feb.

In addition to this, The Rapid City Parks Department is proposing to close the Vegan Boulder/Founder’s Rock to all climbing due to concern about the historic etchings and signatures being eroded and damaged from climbing and other activity. As a result of this, the Parks department is also interested in working with local climbers in a project to install synthetic boulders in a city park space (possibly Founder’s Park). Jerry Cole from
the Parks Department is coming to the Black Hills Climbers Coalition Meeting this Feb. 15th at the School of Mines (meeting room is at Classroom Building 204W).

Come meet with Jerry, Bruce, and other climbers to hear the details of the proposals, provide input, and be a part of the process moving forward. Please spread the word and hope to see you all at the meeting. Feb 11, 2012
Here is the info for the open house that Rushmore is hosting to receive input on the following topics. Lets try and get as many people as possible to the meeting. Please spread the word and hope to see you there.

Mount Rushmore Rock Climbing Area Open House

KEYSTONE, SD: The public is invited to attend an open house at the Keystone Community Center on Wednesday, March 14, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to provide input on the safety and environmental issues related to parking and hiking access to six rock climbing areas within Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The discussion will be limited to the following six climbing areas: South
Seas, Chopping Block, Olton’s Shoulder, Monster, Middle Marker, and
Emancipation. Dialogue concerning trail access, maintenance, safety and parking as well as additional potential impacts on the area will be the focus of conversation. National Park Service staff will be available to
answer questions and record public input.

Suggestions and comments may be submitted electronically via the National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website:


For those unable to submit
electronically, written comments may be hand-delivered to the visitor
center at Mount Rushmore National Memorial or mailed to Attention:

Bruce Weisman, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, 13000 Highway 244 Building 31, Suite 1, Keystone, SD 57751.

All initial comments must be submitted by: March 28, 2012. Mar 11, 2012
Dave Rone
Custer, SD
Dave Rone   Custer, SD  
Hey Jason,

Thanks for posting this information about the new plan. Has either the Park or climbing communtiy proposed anything yet regarding parking or access to these areas?

Thanks! Mar 12, 2012
Hi Dave,

Here is a link to the Brochure that highlights it more clearly. Not sure what options they are going to propose as far as parking etc. I think they will go through that at the meeting, and then I'll post something to clarify here afterwards. People who can't make the meeting can send comments and suggestions to the Park electronically.

Weather is getting nice around here....hope to see you out here again this summer.

Here is the link:
parkplanning.nps.gov/docume… Mar 13, 2012
The comment period for the Mt. Rushmore highway improvement and environmental assessment is coming up March 28. After attending the scoping meeting and speaking with the Mt. Rushmore staff the BHCC came up with the following recommendations for Rushmore. Take a look over this and please send in a comment to Bruce at the address provided. Rushmore is going to take the input and develop different alternatives that the public can once again provide input and commentary on before making a decision.

I am meeting with Bruce Weisman on Monday April 2nd to hike some of the trails and see what where we can eliminate some trails and make some other changes if necessary. I believe we are going to meet at 4:00 at the Wrinkled Rock Trailhead. If you can make it and would like to join in and provide some input.....please do so. At this point they are looking for input to help them come up with their alternative plans.

Rushmore Update:
Federal Funding to improve hwy and do an environmental assessment of the trails and rare plants. Please give your input to Bruce Weismen at Mt Rushmore National Memorial 13000 HWY 244 Building 31 Suite 1 Keystone, SD 57751 prior to March 28th. You can also do this on the website at parkplanning.nps.gov/moru/ (you might have to click another link or two at this point to provide comments). There has been discussion of removing parking at the Rushmore Memorial Sign close to Wrinkle Rock Parking Lot. There has been pressure from the DOT to remove this parking due to safety concerns. Forest Service Plans to expand to 40 parking spots at Wrinkle Rock and add some tent pads to this area. Ideally, we could keep the parking open to prevent having to cross the highway to reach Chopping Block but ideas of alternative are to have a cross walk and change the speed limit and have pedestrian signs and possible rumble strip. If parking does get closed to make sure Wrinkle Rock expansion is completed prior to closure. Other areas open for comments are revamping the kiosks. Adding one at South Seas near Squirrels Alley, another at North Park and one at Emancipation to notify climbers of the new restricted access to that area (You must rappel and cannot hike off through the Vale of Tranquility). Also restoration of trails near New Number 9 and Way Cool Junior to help stabilize the area. Some extra trails where numerous trails go to climbs may be able to be eliminated. For example the ones coming from the north east into Boylesque, just have one good trail. The trail headed to Garfield could be improved. Remap the trail to Baldy and have some markers. Discussion of possible new trails? Do a loop thru marker and down through Emancipation. The trail from Mt Rushmore parking S to the Mickelson trail to Blackberry is dangerous currently for horses. We recommend having a map of the area at the kiosks.

Thanks for your time and effort and for keeping involved in the climbing community!. Mar 26, 2012
Wilson On The Drums
Woodbury, MN
Wilson On The Drums   Woodbury, MN
Does anyone have any beta on the mixed routes on "Sanitarium?" It looks like (from L-R) that there are 4 established routes.. the 1st is bolted/vertical face climbing (big pocket at the start with a birds nest in it), the 2nd has a bolt high off the deck and follows a roof to a crack to 2 more bolts, the 3rd follows a crack/corner to a slightly bulged off-width to upper crack with 2 bolts, and then the 4th follows a crack system to 2 bolts up high. I climbed the 3rd one today and felt it was one of the best climbs I've been on in, great movement, good jams, good rests, hard climbing, felt solid 10. Any info about it would be appreciated. Also there is some nice slabby boulder problems at the base too, grades, names, FAs? Jun 5, 2012
Brent Kertzman
Black Hills, SD
Brent Kertzman   Black Hills, SD
U.S. Forest Service - News Release
Date: 03/15/2013

Parking Lot at Wrinkled Rock Climbing Area Closed

Custer, SD – For approximately 4 weeks, the parking lot at Wrinkled Rock climbing area, located near the west entrance to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, will be closed for public safety for construction work.

The climbing rocks and Forest near the parking lot location will not be affected by the closure.

The Black Hills National Forest is working to finish a National Scenic Byway grant project at Wrinkled Rock which includes increasing the parking lot size by 12 additional parking spots.

Last fall, another portion of the project was completed with erosion repairs done on the trail that leads to the climbing rocks. “We are planning to install new interpretive signs early this summer,” said Dave Pickford, Hell Canyon Recreation Specialist, Black Hills National Forest.

“We would also like to remind folks to “stay on the trail” and avoid cross-country travel to protect soils and vegetation,” said Pickford.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, call (605) 673-9200, email r2 blackhills webinfo@fs.fed.us, or visit, fs.usda.gov/blackhills Mar 15, 2013
Matt Chan
Matt Chan   Denver
It's been many years since I've visited Rushmore and I remember it being very hot and muggy in the summer. Anyone have a suggestion for an ideal time to visit to bag some routes? Thanks! Mar 25, 2014
Mike Madsen
Rapid City
Mike Madsen   Rapid City  
Hey Matt,
I find the best times are late summer/ Fall and Spring being the best for cooler temps and the best friction. Hope this helps. Mar 25, 2014
Doug Lintz
Kearney, NE
Doug Lintz   Kearney, NE
I'm going to be climbing in the Mt. Rushmore area in a few weeks. Does anyone have suggestions for campgrounds? I know about Wrinkled Rock but I've done enough dirtbagging over the years so when I get the chance, I prefer campgrounds with running water and level ground. Yeah, I must be getting soft.

I've camped at Horse Thief before and liked the location/convenience but they're booked up. Does anyone have suggestions for similar campgrounds in the same general area? Jul 7, 2014

We have previously camped at the Willow Creek Horsecamp, we were there early season so there were no horse partys, and there are some individual sites, it's a nice setting and there's no camp host.

Also we are coming out sept 7th and I think the campgrounds are closing after labor day, does anyone know of free camping besides the wrinkled rock place because we have a camper. Any info will be helpful, Thanks! Aug 16, 2014
Oh, the horse camp is about 1 or 2 miles back toward hill city from horsetheif, it's right across from the KOA. Aug 16, 2014
FOUND!1 pair of climbing shoes after Beans n Biners last week, would like to get them back to owner since they don't fit me! Sep 6, 2014
Whats up with the horrible and illogical bolting at this place?

Typical bolting goes something like this.... "place first bolt at 5 feet to protect nothing, then the second bolt at 30 feet so you will deck anytime before clipping it. And then for the final 20 feet of the route (where a large fall is finally safe) lets put 4 bolts in a row." What!?

Cool area with fun climbing but please learn how to bolt a damn route, what a waste of bolts on most of those routes! Shame to see such nice rock getting scarred from pointless bolts that don't even protect the climber. Oct 15, 2015
Yeah, Bill...ya get used to it. Oct 18, 2015
Dave Rone
Custer, SD
Dave Rone   Custer, SD  
B.Climbin' - perfect Nov 2, 2015
Ruth N
New Hampshire
Ruth N   New Hampshire
Hello! Going to be visiting and climbing this summer- I wondered if this area is dog friendly if we keep her on a leash?
Thanks! Jan 20, 2016
Mark Orsag
Omaha, NE
Mark Orsag   Omaha, NE
Amazing single-pitch highly technical sport climbing-- mostly slabby to vertical crimping-- but quite varied. Bolting might be a little sparse for some, but if you think Rushmore is bad, try Custer State Park (except for the Moonlight Ridge crag). Rushmore is my favorite place to climb on earth. For those planning a trip to Rushmore who aren't familiar with the Rushmore style of friction sport climbing, one weather number to watch is the humidity forecast. Numbers of 60% aren't good and if the number reaches 70 or 80% , the rock is going to feel greasy, and the friction climbing is going to lack friction. Not good at all...I have had strong days in the summer heat but never a good day with heat and humidity. May 14, 2016
Hey,heading to black hills, might try to camp at wrinkled rock july 4&5.
I know it's busy. We sleep in our van. Anybody tell me if we can squeeze in?
Thanks,Dennis Jun 8, 2016
anybody climbing this weekend in Rushmore area? Haven't been there yet. I was just going to go and look for people to climb with, but the weather says it's going to be breezy. Are there protected areas where I might find climbers? Sep 23, 2016
Ty Gittins
Ty Gittins   bozeman
Are leashed dogs allowed at this climbing area? Feb 5, 2017
Mark Orsag
Omaha, NE
Mark Orsag   Omaha, NE
Leashed dogs are allowed, and I have met a number of very friendly ones during my summer climbing at Rushmore. Have taken my dog out there a time or two as well. Feb 8, 2017
For first time climbers in the area, figuring out which pulloff to park at/finding the trailhead with the sign-in khiosk, and finding the routes in the Monster, Marker, Shaker area MIGHT be challenging. There are some contradicting information in the descriptions and comments. I really love MP but sometimes it's best to buy the book. My boyfriend and I used MP to find the area and routes and both struggled. He has a great amount of expirence and the directions still stumped him. Once we actually figured out where to park and sign-in we made our way to the base of the correct area. Then the biggest challenge was finding where the routes were... We didn't want to be overly confident and jump on routes we thought were the correct ones. The confusing directions for all of the routes led us to frustration and disappointment. My boyfriend has decades of expirence and skill and he wasn't just going to jump on a route he wasn't sure was correct. I followed his lead and failed to figure out what routes we were looking at. From leaving the campground to finally giving up and driving to Hills City to buy the book was about a three hour adventure. BtW, nowhere in the town of Keystone has any guide books! You must go to Hill City which is about 20-30 min away from Keystone. Go to Granite Sports. They had a great selection of books and were very nice and helpful! We bought "The Needles of Mount Rushmore" by Andrew Nurse and Andrew Burr. It was recommended to us and we heard from others this was the book to get. If the weather turns and starts hailing and storming for food stop in Desparados for some food! Great prices for the area and very friendly staff. When we finally got back to climbing using the book got us quickly to where we wanted to climb and with their helpful descriptions we found the routes immediately and we got to climb! I recommend to routes in Magna Carta, Picture Window routes.. cool, unique routes. Getting to the arête can be spooky of you don't like a lot of exposure. Layback moves are key to make it more fun and less challenging. Placing fear towards to the of any of the routes on this wall can be tricky and spooky with the exposure I mentioned before. Jun 9, 2017
Aj Yantes
Rapid City, SD
Aj Yantes   Rapid City, SD
Hello all! Wondering the name of two routes we had the kids on today. We took the trail form wrinkled rock parking lot at the "v" took a left towards the wood a frame fence walked to the "back". It is too very easy bolted routes probably 5.5 or easier. They are short and right next to each other and they start in a small ravine between two rocks. They are not the initial rocks as you walk down in past the wood fence they are the next ones in. Thanks yall!

Ps. We just moved here from Colorado and are looking for friends to climb with in the area. Email me if you need a belay! Jun 19, 2017
Mark Orsag
Omaha, NE
Mark Orsag   Omaha, NE
Sounds like Lead Life Vest 5.6 (definitely more 5.4ish after 1st move) and Up the Creek 5.3. Jun 21, 2017
Mark Orsag
Omaha, NE
Mark Orsag   Omaha, NE
Those two routes are listed on MP with photos etc., under the South Seas/ Toy Tug Boat headings. Jun 21, 2017
Jim Slichter
Hill City, SD
Jim Slichter   Hill City, SD
We found a pair of red reading glasses on the way up to Weird Water last weekend. Please contact me to claim them. Sep 16, 2017
Mike Madsen
Rapid City
Mike Madsen   Rapid City