“We offer the ability to connect with nature and have fun at the same time,” said Cameron Fullerton, operations manager at Rushmore Tramway Adventures. “It’s an innate desire in human beings, and we’re just here to help people experience it.”
Travelers out in the Black Hills looking for adventure, relaxation, or a mix of the two, can stop just a mile away from South Dakota’s biggest attraction.
“There’s upwards of three million people that visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial a year, and we only see 100,000, which is just a sliver,” said Fullerton.
This means that many tourists are unsure about the park in Keystone, he continues.
“If I could get them here, I could show them that there’s something for everybody to do,” said Fullerton.
Whether guests are seeking adrenaline spikes or would rather just sit back and watch from afar, Rushmore Tramway Adventures has activities for all kinds of travelers.
In order to access the most popular adventures, guests ride the oldest attraction at the park: the chairlift. Fullerton says that from 1965 to 2002, Rushmore Tramway was just a chairlift.
“We service groups of all different types and sizes, from 10 people all the way up to 200 people, depending on what your organization is.” -Cameron Fullerton
But now, the chairlift leads up to the Alpine Slide, Pinnacle Zip Tour, a garden, and the Mountain Top Grille.
“Out of all the people who are taking the chairlift, a good 90% are taking the Alpine Slide, but 10% just want to ride up with their family and will take the chairlift back down,” said Fullerton.
Rushmore Tramway’s Alpine Slide, the most popular attraction, spans 2,000 feet and allows riders to wind down the mountainside with a hand brake to determine their speed.
Second to the Alpine Slide in popularity is the Pinnacle Zip Tour.
“It’s incredible because it will go all the way around the perimeter of our property,” said Fullerton.
The zipline tour is South Dakota’s first, and takes about two hours and at times reaches 400 feet above the ground below.
“We’re the closest private property to Mount Rushmore, so you’re literally zipping as close to the monument as you can get,” explained Fullerton.
And getting up close and personal with the monument has proven to be a popular tourist attraction.
“Last year, we moved up to the second place on TripAdvisor for this area, which means we just outdid the Presidential Trail underneath Mount Rushmore.”
Maybe someday Rushmore Tramway will make it to first place and pass the four stone heads themselves.
“That’d be pretty wild,” he said.
For those who don’t have the time or the courage for a two-hour zipline commitment, there’s an 800-foot zipline at the bottom of the chairlift that takes about 20 minutes.
“There’s a lot of people that just want to come and knock it off of their bucket list, so they’ll do that,” said Fullerton.
The Aerial Adventure Park is a popular attraction for those who are building confidence and skills.
“You push yourself, and the way that the [eight] courses are structured, you can go through a certain difficulty. If you master it, you can move up to the next level,” explained Fullerton.
He continued, “When people walk away from it, they’ve reached the maximum level of satisfaction, because they’ve pushed their limits as far as they can go.”
Next to the chairlift, the four-lane, 450-foot Tubing Hill is another ride that is less fear-inducing.
“We’ve spent a lot of time going in to find the best version of every attraction.” -Cameron Fullerton
Mountain Top Grille
Grab a bite at the Mountain Top Grille and decide between some American food classics.
“Most recently, we finished our summertime tubing hill, and that was built all in house. That was a crazy project, because we had to remove this entire hillside in order to develop our own layout for it.”
Last but not least, there’s the 60-foot-tall Jump Tower stationed 30 feet above the ground level.
“It’s the most terrifying looking thing that we offer,” said Fullerton. “It’s one of the things we added that people may strive to go do.”
He said roughly half of the guests who choose the ultimate package, which includes all of the attractions, will give the Jump Tower a go.
“Maybe they come two or three times before they try it, but the buildup makes it really exciting for people,” said Fullerton. “It gives them something to work toward when they’re in the aerial park because there are some similar drops in there.”
From a calming lift with presidential views to the spike of adrenaline that comes with a 25-foot freefall, Rushmore Tramway offers it all and everything in between.
“If you’re coming to the Black Hills, you’re coming to be outside,” noted Fullerton. “So when you come here, you can do it all, or you can find the specific attraction that you want.”