Are you looking for a Dallas to Mount Rushmore road trip itinerary?
Our family did this Dallas to Mount Rushmore road trip once during summer vacation. It was my second road trip to Mount Rushmore, where the first one was from Denver Colorado. At that time we visited in the fall and my son was still in my belly.
My husband used to live in Wyoming and he’s been to Mt Rushmore many times. So, Mount Rushmore is not a new destination for us. But, it’s new for our son and our dog Snoopy.
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Many people want to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial at least once in their lifetime. They want to see the massive sculpture of the four U.S. presidents carved into Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills region of South Dakota.
But, there are so many interesting places around Mount Rushmore that you must see while in the region. Also, make sure you cross the state line to visit Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.
Here I’m going to share with you our 10 days road trip itinerary from Dallas to Mount Rushmore. We traveled in our minivan with our son and dog in the back seat.
How Far Is Mount Rushmore From Dallas?
If you check google maps, it will tell you that the distance from Dallas to Mount Rushmore is between 1,041 to 1,069 miles. When translated to driving times, it will be around 16 hr 30 min to 16 hr 45 min. Of course, it depends on the traffic on the days of your travel.
A lot of people spend a night somewhere in Nebraska before continuing the next day to Mount Rushmore. As for my family, we spent 4 nights on the road before we finally got to South Dakota, where Mount Rushmore is located.
When your travel time to a destination is long, it’s better you get to see other places along the way. That’s what we did on this road trip from Dallas to Mt Rushmore.
I found a couple of National Monuments in Nebraska that weren’t too far from our original plan. As a family who likes to visit National Parks, I put them in our itinerary.
Moreover, I didn’t make a strict itinerary. We liked to explore roadside attractions or whatever interesting signs we saw along the road.
Now, let’s go through our 10 days itinerary of a road trip from Dallas to Mount Rushmore. An itinerary that can easily cut short if you don’t have 10 days to spend.
10 Days Road Trip Itinerary From Dallas to Mount Rushmore
Day 1 – Home to Wichita, Kansas – 5h 30m
We left around 7am from our house in the south of Dallas and didn’t take the toll road until we got to Kansas. Actually, we didn’t want to take the toll road because we liked to explore small towns while on the road. But, we missed the exit.
In Wichita we stayed at Aloft Wichita Northeast on 3642 Oliver St. It’s a super dog-friendly hotel that my husband questioned whether it’s a pet-friendly or human-friendly hotel. Hehe..
After a rest, we went to Stearman Field Bar & Grill for supper. It’s a neat restaurant where you can watch the planes take off and land while enjoying their delicious food. The restaurant is located at 14789 SW 30th St. in Benton, about 15 minutes from our hotel. It is a pet-friendly restaurant, but you must sit on the patio with your furry friend.
Before this trip, we only spent a night in Wichita on the way home from Denver. We left the next morning, and we didn’t get to see anything. So, we decided to spend a couple of nights in the city before we continued up north.
If you’ve been to Wichita and wanted to drive more miles on this first day, that is fine. You can drive another 3 hours and spend a night in Phillipsburg, which is still in Kansas.
Day 2 – Explore Wichita Kansas
Wichita has so many attractions to offer to its visitors. We visited the Great Plains Nature Center, Exploration Place, and Keeper of the Plains. For a detailed story about the city, go check my post about fun things to do in Wichita.
Day 3 – Wichita to Ogallala, Nebraska – 6h 30m (destination is in a different time zone)
Our first stop today was Rock City in Minneapolis. I read about these huge concretions when I searched for things to do or see between Wichita and Mount Rushmore. Minneapolis is around 1h 30 min from Aloft. Address: 1051 Ivy Road, Minneapolis, KS 67467.
Then we decided to drive through small towns of Kansas to Ogallala, Nebraska, our stop for the night. We were driving towards the northwest.
Next stop was Lincoln. We decided to make a turn to that city based on its name. We wondered if there’s something about Abraham Lincoln there. There was none, but we got to visit a Drug Store and Scouts Museums.
After an interesting talk with the museum’s owner, we continued on KS-18 W and KS-181 N passing through Tipton.
After driving around to find a place to eat lunch, we ended up at Cawker City, home of the World’s Largest Ball of Twine! Address: 719 Wisconsin St, Cawker City, KS 67430. And we didn’t find a place to eat there, so we went back to Tipton. lol.
After lunch at Tipton we continued on KS-181 N towards highway US-36 W.
When we’re about to enter US-36 W, I saw a battered wooden sign saying The Geographic Center of the United States, so we followed it. It turned out we arrived at the Geographical Center of the Lower 48 States in Lebanon. How cool is that! It’s location is 2 miles northwest of Lebanon, still in Kansas.
By the time we left Lebanon, it’s already 5 in the afternoon. We still had to drive another 3,5 hours to Ogallala in Nebraska. So, we decided not to make other stops.
We entered Nebraska through Red Cloud on US-281 N. Then we followed NE-4 to I-80 W. From there we drove all the way to Ogallala.
Our accommodation for the night was Sleepy Sunflower RV Park which is now an I80 KOA. We pitched a tent and the campsite was spacious. The bathroom was super clean and WiFi was running good. The only downside for tent campers is, it’s loud! The RV Campground is right by the highway.
Day 4 – Ogalla to Hot Springs in South Dakota – 4h 30m
If you like coffee, save your time in making one in the morning. You will drive through Oshkosh and there’s a coffee shop called Mark Ferrari Coffees in town. I don’t do caffeine, but it smelled really good there. You can find their coffee on Amazon, too.
After about an hour and forty five minutes drive from Ogallala, we arrived at Bayard. Here we went to see the Chimney Rock National Historic Site. Chimney Rock is one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks for pioneer travelers on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails, a symbol of the great western migration.
The Chimney Rock Visitor Center is located 1.5 miles south of Highway 92 on Chimney Rock Road near the town of Bayard. They don’t accept National Park Pass, you must pay to get in. But, you can always see the Chimney Rock from the patio for free. That’s what we did. Then we drove to the Chimney Rock Cemetery and got to see the Chimney closer.
Bridgeport is the town before Bayard. There’s a sign going to Alliance to see the Carhenge. We didn’t go there, but if you want to, it is about 46 minutes drive from Bridgeport.
About 30 minutes later we arrived at Scotts Bluff National Monument in Gering. Another landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails to modern travelers.
We drove the Scotts Bluff Summit Road to the top, but we didn’t have time to hike the famous Saddle Rock Trail. Views from the top were amazing!
After an hour drive, we arrived at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Agate, near Harrison Nebraska. It’s not a popular destination because of its location. Dogs are welcome on the trails, but not inside the Visitor Center. So, my husband and I took turns staying outside with Snoopy.
Then we drove to Hot Springs in South Dakota where we stayed for 3 nights. We passed Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford. It looks cool and seems like it’s a summer vacation destination for people of Nebraska and South Dakota.
There’s a place called Toadstool Geological Park and Campground near Crawford that I wanted to visit. Too bad we didn’t have enough time.
In Hot Springs we stayed at Sunrise Ridge Campground & Storage. There’s nothing fancy about this campground, but it’s the only place that was available during our stay. Besides, we wanted a place that was close to Mount Rushmore and Badlands from where we entered South Dakota.
Day 5 – Hot Springs to Badlands National Park – 1h 15m
I didn’t know that Badlands is divided into two units: North and South. When we got to Badlands, we were like “What?” My husband asked whether I punched the right address. Lol.
Apparently, we entered Badlands from the South Unit. It’s a remote part of the park, where you can only drive or do backcountry hiking. But it’s really beautiful!
It took around 1,5 hours to drive from Hot Springs. After a brief stop at the White River Visitor Center, we continued to the North Unit via SD-44 E.
About half an hour drive from the White River, we arrived at Scenic. It looks like a ghost town. Another half hour later, we arrived at Ben Reifel Visitor Center in the North Unit. That’s where we saw the National Parks’ crowds.
We didn’t explore a lot around Badlands. My husband saw on a map that Minuteman Missile National Historic Site was not too far from Badlands, so we drove there, too.
From the Visitor Center we drove part of Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) to the Minuteman Site. On the map, it took only around 30 minutes to drive. But we stopped at Cliff Shelf Nature Trailhead, Notch Trailhead, and Big Badlands Overlook along the way. The landscapes were incredible!
Minuteman Missile is the only remaining nuclear missile field. It illustrates the history and significance of the Cold War and arms race. Address: 21280 SD Hwy 240, Philip, SD.
From the Minuteman Site we went back to Badlands and visited Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Then we went back to Hot Springs the same way we came.
But, if you go there, visit the Ben Reifel Visitor Center before you go to Minuteman. Then take I-90 W and SD-79 S to Hot Springs. You can stop at the Wall Drug Store in Wall and drive through Rapid City. The driving time is 30 minutes faster.
Day 6 – Hot Springs to Mount Rushmore – 1h
It’s the day we visited Mount Rushmore. We left early in the morning because we had to leave Snoopy in the car while we’re in the Memorial.
Dogs are not allowed inside the park, but at that time we were allowed to leave them in the car. We opened the windows a bit and ran a small fan to rotate the air in the car. When you bring a dog, call the Park to make sure that this arrangement is still ok.
We arrived around 8.30 and left around 11. I believe we explored every nook in the park, including having early lunch and TJ’s vanilla ice cream, based on Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe from 1780.
Parking complex in the Memorial is huge, but it gets full fast. It’s better to arrive as early as you can. Note that a parking ticket entitles a non-commercial vehicle to unlimited entry to the memorial for one year from the date of purchase. When we went there, we used our friend’s parking ticket who visited the memorial a couple of months before we did.
However, parking for vehicles pulling trailers or extra-long vehicles is extremely limited.
From Mount Rushmore we went to Custer State Park. It’s a great park and big. I wonder why it’s not a National Park, or at least a National Monument.
In just a half a day visit, we got to drive the famous Needles Highway, visit Sylvan Lake, hiked to Cathedral Spires, and visited a few other interesting things. You can check how we did a visit to Custer State Park here.
Crazy Horse Memorial is located between Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park. We’ve visited this memorial before, and from the pictures in social media, we didn’t think there’s any difference in the carving from the last time we went there. So, we decided not to make a stop.
If you haven’t been to Crazy Horse Memorial, you may want to make a visit while in the area.
From Custer we went to check out murals in downtown Hot Springs before dark fell.
Day 7 – Hot Springs to Devils Tower in Wyoming – 3h 30m
Today we left the Black Hills region for Devils Tower in Wyoming. It’s not too far from Mount Rushmore. So, when you plan a road trip from Dallas to Mount Rushmore, you must go there, too. Don’t just turn around and go home to Texas.
On the way to Devils Tower we made stops at Wind Cave National Park, Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon, and a few other interesting places. Go check our road trip from Mount Rushmore to Devils Tower for more details.
Since it’s still bright when we got to Devils Tower, we did a Tower Trail. Then we joined a ranger program in the evening.
We stayed at Belle Fourche River Campground inside Devils Tower. It’s on a first come first served basis. Open for tent campers and RVs/trailers. No shower, but the restroom was clean.
Day 8 – Devils Tower to Ogallala in Nebraska – 5h 50m
Before leaving Devils Tower, we went back to the Visitor Center for my son to be sworn in as the Junior Ranger.
Today we started our journey home. First stop from Devils Tower was Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Fort Laramie, Wyoming. It took around 3 hours and 30 minutes to get there.
3 hours later we arrived in Ogallala Nebraska and spent a night at the same place on our way to Mount Rushmore: Sleepy Sunflower RV Park (I80 KOA.)
Before we got to Ogalla, we made a quick drive around Lewellen to see the murals in town.
Day 9 – Ogallala to Wichita in Kansas – 6h 45m (destination is in a different time zone)
On the way to Wichita, we drove south to Oakley for about 3 hours. I wanted to see Monument Rocks, another cool rock formation in the state of Kansas.
When we arrived in the city, what we saw first was a huge bison and a cowboy bronze sculpture. It turned out it was Buffalo Bill Cody, the famous buffalo hunter in the American Wild West.
Then we found Fick Fossil & History Museum around downtown. We were surprised to see the collections in the museum. It’s just unbelievable for a small town like Oakley.
Finally we arrived at the Monument Rocks that is located outside the city. Many people didn’t believe it’s in Kansas after they saw my picture from here.
Our last stop was Lindsborg, the Little Sweden USA. A cool destination where we got to see Swedish wild dala horses scattered through town. Also, there’s a gift shop selling all kinds of souvenirs from Sweden. It’s really neat!
We were really surprised with all these attractions in small town Kansas we found on this trip.
An hour later, we arrived in Wichita.
Day 10 – Wichita to home – 5h 30m
Last day of the trip, we went to Pizza Hut Museum and chased street art in downtown Wichita. In case you didn’t know, Pizza Hut was born in Wichita.
In Oklahoma, we stopped at Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Memorial in Oklahoma City. Our son was still a baby when I went there. So, it’s a good stop for him to learn about what had happened in OKC back in 1995.
Then we continued to drive home. End of our road trip from Texas to Mount Rushmore.
I hope you will find this road trip itinerary from Dallas to Mount Rushmore useful for your trip there. If you live in other parts of Texas, you can easily add your starting point to this itinerary. For those of you who live in other states, you can always jump in to the middle of the itinerary.
Dallas to Mount Rushmore Flights
If you prefer to fly, the closest airport to Mount Rushmore is Rapid City in South Dakota. It will take slightly less than 2 hr 30 min from Dallas. From Rapid City you still have to drive around 30 minutes to Mount Rushmore.
What is the best month to visit Mount Rushmore? ›
The best month to visit Mount Rushmore is October for peak fall foliage but May & September are also great. Summer in Mount Rushmore brings massive crowds (especially for the 4th of July) and major heat (sometimes over 90 degrees).How long should you plan for a trip to Mount Rushmore? ›
We recommend three days, which gives you time to explore all three driving loops, as well as tour downtown Rapid City. But if you only have one or two days, you can still make it work. In two days, we recommend visiting the Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills on day one, and the Badlands on day two.Is it worth driving to Mount Rushmore? ›
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, this national memorial draws 2 million visitors per year. Mount Rushmore is worth a quick visit, whether you are touring South Dakota or road tripping across the United States.How long should I stay at Mt Rushmore? ›
How Long Should I Plan to Stay at Mount Rushmore? Most people spend one to two hours at Mount Rushmore, but you could easily spend more time there if you took it slow.What city should I stay in to visit Mount Rushmore? ›
I'll save you the time for research – the closest town to stay near Mt Rushmore is Keystone, SD. If you don't mind driving just a little bit further, then consider Hill City or Custer – both excellent options for a longer stay visiting Mt Rushmore as well as the Black Hills.Does it cost to see Crazy Horse? ›
The Crazy Horse Memorial is open all year. Winter hours are from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Entrance fees are: $10 for Adults.What is the best month to visit South Dakota? ›
The sun is shining and seasonal businesses are open in the summer, making late May to early September the most popular time to visit South Dakota. There are usually 15 to 16 hours of daylight per day, although thunderstorms do occur.Is Deadwood South Dakota worth visiting? ›
Located on the northern edge of the Black Hills National Forest, the city of Deadwood is defined by both its scenic surroundings and Wild West history. This combination makes for an exciting place to visit and stay awhile.How far is Rushmore from Yellowstone? ›
The distance between Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park is 369 miles. The road distance is 533 miles.How much does it cost to get into Mount Rushmore? ›
There is no entrance fee for Mount Rushmore National Memorial. However, fees are required to park at the memorial. Parking fee is for private passenger vehicles, valid for one year from date of purchase. Parking fee for Seniors, 62 and older, is $5 and Active Duty Military parking is free.
How far apart are Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore? ›
Crazy Horse Memorial® is 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.Is Mt Rushmore lit up at night? ›
From May through early August, the ceremony starts nightly at 9 p.m., and from early August through September 30, it starts nightly at 8 p.m. From October through May, there is no ceremony, but the sculpture is illuminated nightly at sunset.Is Devils Tower near Mt Rushmore? ›
The direct drive from Mount Rushmore to Devils Tower is around 2.5 hours long. So being a 2.5 hour drive, this means that you can drive from Mount Rushmore to Devils Tower in one day no problem.How long does it take to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial? ›
I would plan for three to four hours at this site. You start with a free movie about the history of the memorial, and then plan on taking a tour up the mountain to see it up close and personal.What city is closest to the Badlands? ›
Badlands National Park is located 75 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota.Where should I stay to see Badlands and Mount Rushmore? ›
- State Game Lodge at Custer State Park Resort. ...
- Blue Bell Lodge at Custer State Park Resort. ...
- Creekside Lodge at Custer State Park Resort. ...
- Sylvan Lake Lodge at Custer State Park Resort. ...
- Legion Lake Lodge at Custer State Park Resort. ...
- State Game Lodge at Custer State Park Resort. ...
- Blue Bell Lodge at Custer State Park Resort.
Out and out the best place to live in South Dakota is Brookings. Not only is it the best place to live in the state but also proudly offers the best public schools too. In turn, unsurprisingly, Brookings has been rated as the second best place to raise a family in the state.
Lined with thousand-foot canyon walls, Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills is arguably the most scenic spot in South Dakota. In the Northern Hills, the 22-mile Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway takes in all the beauty with plenty of roadside stops along the way.Will the Crazy Horse monument ever be finished? ›
As of the time of writing, it is impossible to state when exactly the Crazy Horse monument will be "finished." The face etched into the side of the mountain was visibly completed back in 1998, but there is still a great deal of work to be done to the rest of the mountain face, guest areas, as well as a variety of other ...Can you see Crazy Horse Memorial without paying? ›
Crazy Horse Memorial is only sustained by admission and private contributions. Your admission dollars support Crazy Horse Memorial's mission to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the indigenous people of North America.
What is the best time of year to go to South Dakota? ›
Best Time to Visit South Dakota
But most visitors prefer to come during the warm months between May and October. Summers are the peak tourism season because the temperatures are at their nicest and glorious outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking, fishing, and boating is at its best.
Old-timers say the best time to visit the Black Hills is in September or October. We agree as we particularly enjoy the fall colors, which are usually at their best in the first or second week of October. Hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts also favor autumn when daytime temperatures are usually cooler.How much does it cost to visit Mt Rushmore? ›
There is no entrance fee for Mount Rushmore National Memorial. However, fees are required to park at the memorial. Parking fee is for private passenger vehicles, valid for one year from date of purchase. Parking fee for Seniors, 62 and older, is $5 and Active Duty Military parking is free.Is April a good month to visit Mount Rushmore? ›
Mount Rushmore is very popular, with peak visitation during June, July, and August. The best time to visit, though, is September and October, with April and May as alternatives. Although spring months can be wet and cold, the Black Hills' dry weather patterns make fall visits ideal.Is Mt Rushmore lit up at night? ›
From May through early August, the ceremony starts nightly at 9 p.m., and from early August through September 30, it starts nightly at 8 p.m. From October through May, there is no ceremony, but the sculpture is illuminated nightly at sunset.What is the coldest month in South Dakota? ›
The cold season lasts for 3.4 months, from November 22 to March 4, with an average daily high temperature below 45°F. The coldest month of the year in Winner is January, with an average low of 16°F and high of 36°F.What is the difference between the Badlands and the Black Hills? ›
The Badlands are principally composed of sedimentary rocks such as shale and claystone, whereas the Black Hills are composed of granite, metamorphic rocks, and volcanic rocks. The Badlands record 75 million years of history, whereas the Black Hills are at least 40 million years old.How far is it from badlands to Mt Rushmore? ›
|Mileage||159 miles (257 km)|
|Roadways||South Dakota Highways 240, 40, 44, 79, 87, and 89, US Highway 16, Iron Mountain Road, Reed Street, and Sage Creek Road|
|Passes Please read the drive description for more information.||America the Beautiful Annual National Parks Pass|
The Black Hills National Forest is open, free of charge, for your use and enjoyment. Fees may be charged and permits required for some activities and locations, including camping and parking fees.Who is the fifth face on Mount Rushmore? ›
5. Is there a fifth face on Mount Rushmore? There is no secret fifth face carved into Mount Rushmore. However, for over 20 years, visitors were greeted by Ben Black Elk, unofficially called the fifth face of Mount Rushmore.
How far apart are Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore? ›
Crazy Horse Memorial® is 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.How far is Rushmore from Yellowstone? ›
The distance between Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park is 369 miles. The road distance is 533 miles.Do you need a reservation for Mount Rushmore? ›
You do not need a reservation for any programs at Mount Rushmore, including the Evening Lighting Ceremony.Is Deadwood South Dakota worth visiting? ›
Located on the northern edge of the Black Hills National Forest, the city of Deadwood is defined by both its scenic surroundings and Wild West history. This combination makes for an exciting place to visit and stay awhile.