Planning a Trip From Mt Rushmore To Yellowstone
Are you planning a vacation in the United States? If so, consider visiting Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park. These two destinations are unlike any other, offering visitors a unique experience that is hard to find anywhere else. Visitors from across the world have been combining these two locations for decades, and there's good reason why.
First, let's talk about Mt Rushmore. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mt Rushmore is the most visited attraction in the area, but wait, there's more. The beauty of the Black Hills and Badlands far exceeds the lure of Mt Rushmore and offers wildly surprising experiences. Seriously, there's a lot to do here.
How Much Time Should You Spend In the Black Hills?
This is a good question and one that most get wrong, unfortunately. The Black Hills and Badlands are underrated and not generally at the top of the list. As a result, planners tend to cut their time short and end up regretting it. I recommend at least 4 days to explore the area, but many only plan one or two. This is because Mt Rushmore and the Black Hills are before or after a trip to Yellowstone, and become an afterthought.
What to do in Black Hills South Dakota?
The Black Hills are a unique mountain formation separate from the Rockies and divided into three sections. The Northern Black Hills are home to the famous Spearfish Canyon, Devil's Tower, and the wild west town of Deadwood. The Central Black Hills include Mt Rushmore, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, and Crazy Horse Memorial. The Southern Black Hills offers Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, and Cascade Falls. Each is incredibly unique and takes a full day to explore. It is an excellent place for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and more!
In addition to the Black Hills, you have Badlands National Park just to the east. Another overlooked area, the Badlands, offers some of the most stunning photographs with its eerily wild peaks, spires, and strata formations. Not only this, but it is a Night Sky Park. Badlands National Park is the best place to view sunsets and the night sky. Over 7500 stars can be seen with the naked eye on a clear night.
Next, let's talk about Yellowstone National Park. Located in Wyoming, Yellowstone is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique geothermal features. Visitors can explore the park independently or take a guided tour to learn more about the park's history and ecology. Yellowstone's most popular attractions include the Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Prismatic Spring.
How Much Time Should You Spend in Yellowstone National Park?
If you're planning a vacation that includes both Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone, you should keep a few things in mind. First, consider taking a private tour of each location. Private tours allow you to experience the sites at your own pace and ask questions of your guide. Private tours often take you to less crowded park areas, giving you a more intimate experience. My XO Adventures offers unique Black Hills and Badlands tours, and we recommend Globe Trekkers for your experiences while in Yellowstone.
When it comes to getting from Mt Rushmore to Yellowstone, you can take a few different routes. One option is to drive through the Black Hills and visit sites like the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park before heading to Yellowstone. Another option is to take the scenic Beartooth Highway, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Many visitors plan their vacation using a big bus tour company. This is where special attention is needed.
Most large bus companies only skirt around the Black Hills without visiting the most exciting places. Often, I hear the tour package purchased takes them to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park. While this is technically true, these companies will only drop you off at Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial for a specified time. They can say they've taken you to Custer State Park because a main thoroughfare runs through it. The bus companies use this road, drive through the park, and "fulfill" their obligation.
Here's what you miss:
- Iron Mountain Road
- Needles Highway
- Custer State Park Wildlife Loop Road
- Mount Coolidge Lookout Tower
As you plan your vacation to Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone, remember that both destinations are popular and can get crowded during peak season. Consider visiting in the shoulder season in spring or fall and booking accommodations well in advance to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
A vacation combining Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park is a natural and one you should experience. Whether you're interested in American history, natural beauty, or both, these two destinations have something for everyone. So start planning your trip today and prepare to create memories that will last a lifetime!
Distance from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone
Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park are two of the most iconic American landmarks in the country, and many travelers dream of visiting both during a single trip. Although Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota and Yellowstone is in Wyoming, it's surprisingly easy to visit both on one journey due to their proximity—only about 400 miles from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone.
Given this relatively short distance, travelers can consider driving directly between the two sites or take their time exploring more along the route. If you'd like to make a road trip out of it, there are plenty of interesting places to stop off at along the way.
Head north on Highway 16 from Mount Rushmore and take in some of South Dakota's stunning natural beauty. Stop off at Badlands National Park for incredible views of eroded buttes and spires before continuing your journey. Follow Interstate 90 east toward Rapid City and explore iconic Black Hills attractions such as Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park, or Jewel Cave National Monument.
Heading east on I-90 will take you through Wyoming’s stunning grasslands, where you can spot wildlife such as pronghorn antelope or bison herds! Make sure to stop by Devils Tower National Monument for awe-inspiring views of the monolith rising from the surrounding prairies and unique photo opportunities.
Other must-see attractions off I-90 include Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where Custer’s Last Stand was fought (near Hardin), or Homestake Gold Mine in Lead and Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway (west of Deadwood).
Finally, after covering about 400 miles between South Dakota and Wyoming, you'll reach Yellowstone! You may want to plan an overnight stay around Gardiner, Montana within Yellowstone's boundaries before continuing your journey. Here you can catch all kinds of wildlife such as grizzly bears or wolves roaming around—a fantastic way to cap off your epic road trip from Mount Rushmore!