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Google Maps is directing Mount Rushmore tourists to camping retreat

If your next vacation plans include a trip to the incredible Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, take care with how you type in your Google Maps destination.

Shutterstock / Richard A McMilli
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Get it wrong and you might end up at a 264-acre Methodist campsite and retreat called Storm Mountain Center!

Now, there's nothing wrong with Storm Mountain Center. Just like there's nothing wrong with Mount Rushmore. But everybody wants to end up where they planned to go, and enough tourists are being misdirected around 12 miles off course that the folks at the Center now have a sign up that sends up a warning:

The problem, explains the Argus Leader, is partly computer and partly human error. If you type in "Mount Rushmore, South Dakota" in your Google Maps GPS search, you'll see there's more than one location. The first, more specific one, takes you to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, via U.S. Highway 16. But if you choose a less-precise location, "Mt. Rushmore, SD" — that's where the trouble begins.

"It seems to think one of the hills nearby is Mount Rushmore," says guest services manager at the Center Ashley Wilsey, who can sometimes end up fielding a few travelers a day — or, as earlier this month, five carloads of vacationers. (Here's what the official website for Mount Rushmore suggests in terms of using GPS to find the right place.)

MORE: 10 best U.S. landmarks for families

Shutterstock / Barnes Ian
Over 3 million people visit Mount Rushmore National Monument in Keystone, South Dakota every year. Some just take longer to get there than others.

Fortunately, this doesn't seem to be a widespread issue, since the carved rock destination attracts over 3 million visitors a year and not even a fraction of that turn up in the Center's parking lot. But enough are mistaken that the sign was clearly necessary.

"For the most part, people have been very friendly, but some people are very insistent that this is where Mount Rushmore should be," said Wilsey.

MORE: 10 incredible world landmarks you haven't seen — yet

And if the sign doesn't work, she suggested, they might create a smaller replica of the presidential carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and set it up at the camp. Then, if people show up and insist they're in the right place, says Wilsey, "We'll just point to the replica and say, 'There it is. You thought it was a lot bigger, didn't you?'"

Follow Randee Dawn on Twitter.

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