Mount Rushmore Closes As Firefighters Battle South Dakota Wildfires

South Dakota's Mount Rushmore National Memorial closed on Tuesday as wildfires raged nearby, according to reports.

The national memorial was first closed Monday afternoon, according to the Pennington County Sheriff's Office, as the Keystone fire burned. That fire had been downsized from 30 acres to 15 acres by Monday evening, according to CNN.

The blaze was not threatening Mount Rushmore, and appeared to be moving toward more remote areas, Gov. Kristi Noem told reporters, according to The Weather Channel. But officials were forced to close Highway 244 at the west boundary of the park as well as the highway entrance at the Keystone and the Iron Mountain Road boundary.

Mount Rushmore

While firefighters battled that blaze, a much larger one — the Schroeder Fire — raged near the outskirts of Rapid City, so far burning about 1,900 acres, according to the government Facebook group set up to provide information on the wildfire. About 400 to 500 homes have been forced to evacuate.

After it sparked, the blaze was pushed on by a cold front, while punishing winds with gusts ranging from about 50 mph to 72 mph were recorded in Rapid City, according to the Rapid City Journal. The fire was reportedly burning in areas with heavy dead and downed timber.

"We are at record-dry conditions along with high winds playing a major factor in this fight," Jay Esperance, the division director for South Dakota Wildland Fire, said in a statement.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but officials believe it to be human-caused.

"I do want to remind everybody that this is an incredibly fluid situation," Noem said, according to CNN. "That these winds are a major factor and that as they shift and change and we get those gusts, that's when [they] can jump and we're going to have to stay pretty mobile."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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