Why Are Flight & Helicopter Tours Being Reduced At Mount Rushmore & Other US National Parks?

Helicopter and flight tours will be curbed at Mount Rushmore and other national parks in the US.

by Sanjana Shenoy
Why Are Flight & Helicopter Tours Being Reduced At Mount Rushmore & Other US National Parks?

Mount Rushmore never fails to lace the wishlists of tourists to the United States. The massive sculpture carved into Mount Rushmore depicts the granite faces of US presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. Until now, tourists opted for helicopter rides to get a birds-eye view of the sculpture. But not anymore. Soon, the USA will curb helicopter tours to Mount Rushmore; here’s the reason behind it.

Helicopter & Flight Tours To Be Banned At Mount Rushmore & Other US National Parks?

mount rushmore
Picture Credits: Canva

A report by Hindustan Times reveals that flights and helicopters flying within half a mile of South Dakota sites at Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore will soon be banned. This is part of the new regulation implemented by the National Park Air Tour Management Act. Flights and helicopters started offering services in the 1930s, essentially for families of workers building the massive Hoover Dam. Since they were used for sightseeing purposes.

Recently, air tour operators and visitors have had differences of opinion. This is because visitors grew tired of the whirring sounds of helicopters and planes that disturbed their sightseeing experiences. It drowned out the serenity of Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park. The chirping of birds, bubbling lava and gushing brooks, for long have been overpowered by the sounds of helicopter blades whirring. So, from April 2024, flight and helicopter tours around South Dakota sites will be banned.

The National Park Air Tour Management Act first raised concerns about the environmental impact of helicopter and flight tours at national landmarks. A co-owner of Black Hills Aerial Adventures, Mark Schlaefli revealed to ABC News revealed that he doesn’t know what they can salvage. He is currently looking for alternative routes. In 2020, a federal court ordered 23 national parks at famous sites like the Great Smokey Mountains,  Glacier in Montana, Arches in Utah and more to reduce air tours. Air tours were reduced by 30 per cent at these spots during the pandemic.

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What Is The Reason Behind This?

mount rushmore
Picture Credits: Canva

Flight tour operators are worried about their future. Black Hills Helicopter Inc’s Andrew Busse stated that his tours don’t fly directly over Mount Rushmore. He explains that since the park is relatively small, it can spotted from outside its boundaries. The owner of Southwest Safaris, Bruce Adams, stated that he flies tourists a couple of times a week. He revealed that changing the route would leave him with no choice but to fly over Pueblo tribal lands. On his part, Bruce Adams for 49 years, has avoided this route to avoid disturbing tribal dwellings with loud noises.

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With the USA soon banning flights and helicopters at Mount Rushmore and other national parks to maintain its serenity and to maintain peace at tribal dwellings, do you think this is an apt move? Will you miss hopping on such tours to get a birds-eye view of the USA’s popular sightseeing spots?

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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