History of the Gulch

Long, rich history of serving guests

Mount Rushmore Resort at Palmer Gulch started with one man’s vision and has become a destination for thousands of vacationers every year. In 1925, a mining engineer dreamed of developing a country club in the Black Hills. He and other investors purchased land along Palmer Creek, at the base of Harney Peak. They could not have imagined today’s expansive resort.

Changes over the years

  • President Coolidge dedicated the start of Mount Rushmore on Aug. 10, 1927.
  • In 1929, the Great Depression prompted first sale of the country club.
  • Owners turned club into a dude ranch in 1962 – “Palmer Gulch Lodge.”
  • In 1973, it became a Holiday Inn franchisee (Holiday Inn Travel Park).
  • Our current owners’ long affiliation with KOA began in 1977.

Our History Our History


At the time, no one knew that sculptor Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers would create Mount Rushmore National Monument, just five miles west of 7,242-foot Harney Peak, the highest U.S. summit east of the Rocky Mountains. Work on the sculpture started in 1927 and took 14 years to complete.

Over the years, through several ownership changes, more cabins were built and golf, horseback riding, picnicking and touring the Black Hills became popular activities for tourists from all over the world – and for local residents, too. In 1962, new owners returned the golf course to its natural state of valleys and meadows and focused on travelers looking for a dude ranching experience.

The current owners, Recreational Adventures Co., took over in 1972 with a plan to further develop Mount Rushmore Resort into a destination full of great RV and tent camping sites, camping cabins and other quality lodging options.

In 1977, the Palmer Gulch camping grounds with rental cabins joined the world-renowned KOA franchise. Today’s Mount Rushmore Resort at Palmer Gulch is made up of two great facilities for travelers – The Mount Rushmore Lodge and the Mount Rushmore KOA, which has earned “resort” status from KOA.

Decades of Fun at Palmer Gulch

Since it opened as a country club in the 1920s, The Mount Rushmore Resort at Palmer Gulch has provided great get-away-from-it-all fun for thousands of vacationers.

  • Rambunctious Boys

    Some young buckaroos enjoy some exciting wrasslin’ on the grass.


  • Out For a Ride

    Horseback riding has been a popular activity at the resort for a long time.

    Jamie, Davey, Becky Ellen Parker "Hole Yard" PGL July 29, 1958

  • Ready For A Drive

    Going four-wheeling was a very different adventure years ago.

    Jamie, Davey, Becky Ellen Parker "Hole Yard" PGL July 29, 1958

  • Fashion Fun

    Young women try some stylish corsets on for size.


  • Taking a Break

    Women enjoying the warm Black Hills sunshine.

    Jamie, Davey, Becky Ellen Parker "Hole Yard" PGL July 29, 1958