Iron Mountain Road
Peter Norbeck worked closely with Gutzom Borglum, the man who carved Mount Rushmore, to design Iron Mountain Road. The result of their combined efforts resulted in a road with several pigtail bridges and three tunnels, each of which frame the Mount Rushmore sculpture as you drive through them.
At 17 miles in length, Iron Mountain Road connects the northeastern corner of Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore. It’s not the fastest route but it is certainly the most scenic and dramatic approach to the memorial. There are two picnic areas and many scenic overlooks along the way.
Bring some carrots or apples with you on this journey, as one of the park’s two herds of feral burros frequently blocks traffic along this route. The burros are not native to the region and therefore aren’t considered wildlife, so feeding them is not against park rules. Keep in mind, though, that burro stomachs are not really designed to digest potato chips and marshmallows, as much as they enjoy them.
The burros were introduced to the region when they were used to provide rides to the top of Harney Peak. When the rides were stopped, the burros were set free. While the burros aren’t wild, they aren’t exactly domestic either, so keep a close eye on them and on your children. If they display any aggressive behavior, including ears flattened against their heads, or if there are too many of them crowding close, just toss them apple slices from the car.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition