Mount Rushmore is visited by hundreds of people every day. Inevitably, more than a few pets are taken along for the ride. Dogs are allowed at Mount Rushmore but due to the number of people who visit, they’re not allowed beyond the parking garages or the main pergola. Fully trained service dogs are the exception.
Before you head off to explore Mount Rushmore with your dog, check out this guide to ensure you know where your dog is allowed during your visit. Knowing where your dog can go safely will help you enjoy your visit and prevent potential injuries from crowds.
Are Dogs Allowed at Mount Rushmore?
Mount Rushmore sees over two million visitors every year, and not all of the guests are the two-legged variety. Many people travel with their dogs for a day out or during a holiday, and it’s common to see a few canines in the parking lot.
Dogs are welcome to join you right up to the main pergola, provided they’re on a 6-foot leash and under control at all times. Dog waste bags are available in the parking lot to help pet owners clean up after their dogs. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed beyond the pergola, where the main viewing area is.
Why Are Dogs Not Permitted at Mount Rushmore?
Considering how many people visit Mount Rushmore every day—and the limited space available at the viewing area—it’s not surprising that dogs aren’t permitted further than the main pergola. While it can be disappointing that you can’t walk your dog right up to the best view, the restrictions are in place for a reason.
Dogs aren’t allowed in the main visitor’s center for safety reasons. Even if your dog is well-trained, the number of guests and the noise level can be overwhelming. Your dog could get scared due to the crowd, and they, you, or somebody else could get hurt.
Where Are Dogs Allowed at Mount Rushmore?
Although your dog isn’t permitted everywhere at Mount Rushmore, there is plenty of space for them to explore. You won’t be able to walk your dog right to the end of the visitor’s center to get a close-up view of Mount Rushmore, but you can still find a good view from the areas where dogs are permitted.
In all three of these places, ensure your dog is always on a 6-foot leash. You’ll also need to remember to pack plenty of dog waste bags to pick up after your dog.
The Blackberry Trail
Located across the highway from the parking garage, the Blackberry Trail is a National Recreational Trail. It’s a one-mile-long, graveled hiking path that welcomes hikers of all skill levels, dogs, and horses. As well as offering a view of Mount Rushmore, the trail has plenty of different terrains to challenge you. There are water crosses, a wooden bridge, horse tie-up stations, picnic tables, and other challenging obstacles to explore.
Make sure you’ve packed plenty of snacks and water for everyone accompanying you on your hike, including your dog.
The Main Pergola
Before you leave the parking garage and enter the main visitors’ area, where dogs aren’t permitted, you’ll find the main pergola. This row of columns is easy to recognize and marks the visitor’s entrance to the main viewing area of Mount Rushmore.
You and your dog can explore in front of the pergola and sit on the benches around it, but you aren’t allowed to take your dog through unless they’re a fully trained service dog. If you’re traveling with a friend, you’ll need to take turns viewing Mount Rushmore and sitting with your dog.
The Parking Garage
By far, the largest area of Mount Rushmore is the parking garages and the grassy areas in and around them. You’ll need to watch for cars in the parking lot, but your dog is permitted throughout the garage. They’re not allowed to wander off-leash, but there are several grassy areas and pathways where you and your dog can stretch your legs.
Two dog waste bag stations are located on opposite sides of the parking area. If you forgot to bring your own or have run out, grab a few bags to help keep the park clean.
Are There Kennels at Mount Rushmore?
If you’re set on visiting Mount Rushmore with your dog but don’t want to limit yourself to the parking lot, you’ll need to board your dog at a kennel in one of the nearby towns. Mount Rushmore doesn’t have kennels on site, and you shouldn’t leave your dog unattended in the car during your visit.
Are Service Dogs Allowed at Mount Rushmore?
Trained to perform beneficial or life-saving tasks for their handler, service dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers in all of the public areas at Mount Rushmore. Since they’re trained to provide a task to give their handler independence, they are not considered pets and are exempt from Mount Rushmore’s pet policy.
The exception to this is service dogs in training. Until they’re fully trained, they are not considered service dogs by the ADA. As a result, you won’t be able to take your service dog in training beyond the main pergola at Mount Rushmore.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed at Mount Rushmore?
Unfortunately, emotional support animals or comfort animals aren’t considered to be service dogs and therefore aren’t allowed past the main pergola. They’re not trained for the same level of work or to perform tasks for their handler as service dogs are and aren’t granted the same allowances.
Your emotional support animal must remain in the parking garage and on the Blackberry Trail if you take them to Mount Rushmore.
Although Mount Rushmore allows dogs in the parking garage and up to the main pergola, dogs aren’t permitted in the main visitor’s area unless they’re fully trained service dogs.
Fortunately, you don’t need to take your dog into the main park to view Mount Rushmore. You might not get the same view, but there are plenty of spots on the road and the Blackberry Trail where you and your dog can pause to take some pictures.
If you visit Mount Rushmore with your dog, stay within the pet-friendly areas and keep them on a 6-foot leash.
Featured Image Credit: Jumpstroy