Mount Rushmore, one of the most iconic national memorials in the US, is a massive, 60-foot-high sculpture carved into the cliffside of the Black Hills Mountains featuring the faces of four former American presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. Discovered in 1884, Mount Rushmore was constructed as a national monument and finally completed in 1939 after a plan was devised in the 1920s to draw tourists to the region. Today, nearly three million people visit every year, with peak season during the first few months of summer.
Chimney Rock, a symbol of the great western migration during the 19th century, served as a recognizable marker along the the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails, but also represented a milestone for travellers. A historic national monument, Chimney Rock is a testament to thousands of years of erosion in the North Platte Valley, composed of layers of volcanic ash and million-year-old brule clay rising 480 feet above the ground (not including its 325-foot spire). Visitors can revel in this majestic geological formation, visit the museum, or learn about the history of the Overland Trails and the significance of Chimney Rock.
Como Park Conservatory, also known as the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, is a half-acre of gardens and art galleries located on the grounds of the Como Park Zoo. This stunning botanical garden features a Bonsai Gallery, a butterfly garden, a Japanese Garden, a Palm Dome filled with over 150 species of palm trees, a tropical garden featuring plants and animals from Central and South America, along with an array of grasses, flowers, trees, and a native-grass terrace. Head to the Sunken Garden for breathtaking views of the glass greenhouse brimming with colorful flowers and lush foliage.
Cave of the Mounds, a striking limestone cave in Blue Mounds, is a million-year-old geological marvel boasting beautiful mineral formations called speleothems, including soda straws, flowstones, curtains, lily pads, Oolites, and Helictites, exhibited in a brilliant array of colors from red and brown to blue and gray. A National Natural Landmark, the Cave of the Mounds boasts limestone from over 480 million years ago, and with guided tours available every day, guests can get an up-close experience of Wisconsin’s geological history.