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How to Get From Rapid City To Mount Rushmore

How to Get From Rapid City To Mount Rushmore

Do you believe that all there is to do on a trip to Mount Rushmore is stare at some faces carved into the mountain? Don’t be too sure. You could spend a week in the Mount Rushmore region and the nearby areas because there are numerous activities to do there; it has the potential to be one of the most unforgettable road trips you will experience.

To get to Mount Rushmore from Rapid City, it’s recommended to make a road trip. The driving time is only about half an hour, and you can view many scenic places on the way. However, if you want to stop at places, planning a 1-day road trip is recommended.

Continue reading to learn how to organize the ideal road trip from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore. Before you get behind the wheel, you must familiarize yourself with the important planning recommendations for this road trip.

Where is Mount Rushmore?

The word “Black Hills” comes from the Lakota expression “Pahá Sápa,” which alludes to the black aspect of the tree-covered mountains from a distance. Mount Rushmore is situated in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, which receives its name from this phrase. 

The Black Hills National Forest, located about 40 miles from Rapid City, is also the location of multiple other national monuments and historic sites, including Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and Wind Cave National Park. Mount Rushmore is just one of these locations.

For more information on Mount Rushmore, watch this video below:

Ultimate One-Day Mount Rushmore Travel Guide | Mount Rushmore National Memorial

How Far is Mount Rushmore?

If you want a quick answer, here it is, but it applies only if you travel without stopping at any rest areas. Make sure you check the traffic situation before you leave since it will undoubtedly significantly impact the time.

  • Nonstop drive: 24 miles or 39 km
  • Driving time: 33 minutes

Even if you only have a short distance to travel, it is likely to be more fascinating to pull over at various points along the route and investigate the local surroundings. If you drive with stops, you may view the estimate by scrolling down the article.

Flying from Rapid City to Mt Rushmore

Now, let’s suppose you have access to a private aircraft and are able to make the trip from Rapid City, South Dakota, to Mount Rushmore in the shortest amount of time feasible by traveling in a direct line. 

Due to Earth’s spherical shape, the shortest distance is the “great circle” distance, sometimes known as “as the crow flies,” which is determined using the iterative Vincentian method.

  • Flight distance: 18 miles or 29 km
  • Flight time: 32 minutes

The distance traveled by car is approximately 1.3 times that of the distance traveled by airplane, given that the flying distance is 6 miles less than the distance traveled by road.

As the speed of your plane is far higher than that of a car, the amount of time it takes to fly the distance is approximately one-fifth of the amount of time it would take to drive.

Even in a private jet, this trip will take up to an hour or so, but we assume you’re looking at booking a commercial airline instead. 

In such a scenario, your journey time would need to consider the amount of time it takes to go to your local airport, wait in line for security, board the plane, taxi on the runway, land at the other airport, and finally arrive at your destination.

Road Excursion from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore

Let’s assume you’ve settled on taking a road trip to Mount Rushmore and have decided to stop somewhere along the way to explore. And besides, if it’s going to be a proper road trip, you should stop at some fascinating spots along the way to explore and try to find a good restaurant to dine at. 

  • Road trip: 1 day of driving

We will be able to provide you with an accurate estimate of the overall amount of time necessary for travel after we have the entire schedule figured out. But generally, it should take you only a day to get there. 

  • Travel time: 45 minutes on the road

Should I Bring My RV?

Be advised that if you are traveling in an RV, there is a good chance that you won’t be able to drive the Black Hills Loop since it has a number of tunnels with height restrictions that are just one lane each and abrupt hairpin turns.

If, on the other hand, your main objective is to see Mount Rushmore, you should be fine traveling there in an RV.

Where to Dine?

With its convenient location in the middle, Rapid City has the greatest food options. Since there are only one or two lodge eateries on each driving circle, we strongly suggest you pack a picnic or snacks throughout the day. Not only will this be much more practical for you, but you will also be able to discover some amazing sights to take in while you eat.

The Best Time to Visit Mount Rushmore

As the memorial is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, you may schedule a road trip to Mount Rushmore any time during the year. 

Even though the grounds are accessible on December 25, the visitor center and other facilities are closed for the day. Different opening and closing times are in effect for the grounds, visitor center, parking lot, gift shop, and other structures.

The memorial is stunning at any time, but if you want your images to have the finest possible light, you should get there as early in the morning as possible. 

If you want to see the night-time light and music ceremonies at Mount Rushmore, which provide a historical lesson about the location, you should schedule your trip between the months of May and September.

Remember that February and March are often the months with the most snowfall. It is important to check the weather forecast before going on your journey since blizzards may come out of nowhere, just like anywhere else in the nation. A heavy snowstorm or simply a cloudy day could make it hard to see the memorial. 


Your road trip from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore will be unforgettable, thanks to the scenic route. Make sure to plan ahead and learn all of the information about this route and places to stop before you get behind the wheel.