Musco Illuminates Mount Rushmore Monument

More than two million visitors travel to see Mount Rushmore National Memorial each year. Thanks to an LED light source from Musco, the visitors can now enjoy an enhanced night time viewing experience. Musco custom designed and manufactured the new system. The system dramatically improves the lighting of the monument and results in substantially less light pollution while saving energy compared to conventional light sources. The project that began in January of 2013 brought together the National Park Service’s Mount Rushmore and Musco, an LED-based lighting solution company.

“The pinpoint nature of LED technology allows the development of precise optics for optimizing light distribution for unique applications like Mount Rushmore,” said Joe Crookham, President, Musco Lighting. “We are proud to have participated in enhancing night time visibility of this historic and iconic site while exceeding the sustainability goals of the National Parks.”

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The system needed to project light over 1,100 feet while directing the light to illuminate the monument. The light had to be directed to illuminate the monument and not the mountain below. Musco employed advanced optic controls that highlight the monument, while ensuring light is not spilled into the natural wildlife areas and the night sky. Park rangers can use a custom control system to highlight each of the four presidents carved into the mountainside. The LED-based luminaires reduce energy consumption by 90% compared to the previous lights.

“Musco’s sustainable lighting design will reduce night sky pollution, promote energy efficiency and result in an overall cost reduction. Visitors will experience new opportunities to enjoy the night sky; focused lighting will enhance habitat for nocturnal wildlife, and enrich potential for new interpretive programming,” stated Mount Rushmore Superintendent Cheryl Schreier.

Karen Trevino, Chief of the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Park Service, attended the final lighting trials. Trevino commented, “The Mount Rushmore lighting project by Musco illustrates the many additional benefits that result from good lighting practices including: improved nighttime visibility and safety, better protection of nocturnal wildlife, and opportunities for local economic development through astronomy based tourism. For me, however, the capstone of this partnership is that the lessons we learned working with the Musco team can extend far beyond Mount Rushmore to benefit parks throughout the entire United States.”

For more about Mount Rushmore and upcoming park events, visit

Other famed landmarks that feature customized lighting systems from Musco include the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, the White House, and the East Span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.