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  • Sherri & Allan Collier

Mount Rushmore, then what?

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

Want to visit Mt. Rushmore and not sure what else to see/do? Check out what we did to get inspiration for your trip.

South Dakota Itinerary

*We walked A LOT this trip. Pro Tip: buy ON shoes! We were hesitant to splurge but after trying mannnnny shoes, these are the best. Sherri's shoes & Allan's shoes.

Day 1

We flew to Denver (DEN) from Washington DC ( DCA) on Southwest Airlines. We use SW because Allan has a companion pass, so we purchased one ticket and then we only pay $5.60 in taxes for the second person’s one-way ticket.

We arrived at 8:30pm and picked up our rental car. The rate was slightly higher because we were picking up at one location and dropping off at another. We used Enterprise because they seem to be faster to check in than some of the other car rental companies have been lately. We then drove an hour north, checked into a hotel which we booked through while on the road. Utilizing their stay for 10 nights and getting 1 free stay. Our 10 average hotel stays on this trip gave us a reward of one night free reward of $110.00.

Day 2

9:00 am: We drove from Ft. Collins, Colorado to crazy horse, about a 4 hour drive and arrived at approximately 2:00 pm

Explore Crazy Horse – you can plan to spend roughly 4 hours here. Here are a few things to note:

  • The park entrance fee is $30 and the bus ticket to get closer to the monument costs $4 per person.

  • Visit the Indian Museum, and stay for the night show if you have time!

6:00pm: Depart Crazy Horse and drive to Deadwood, roughly 1.5 hours. Deadwood

We got there just in time to order a drink and watch the 7:00pm reenactment of “Wild Bill Shoot out “ at the Saloon #10. (Free to the public.) This performance invited the audience to participate and it was fun and entertaining. The performance is then taken into the streets and continues to the “The trail of Jack Macall”. It's a short walk and entrance fee Admission is $10 Adults, $9 Seniors, $6 Children (ages 6-12) and Children 5 and under are free. Again this performance had the audience and family involved. I really enjoyed this and laughed a lot. This show started at approximately 8pm and lasted an hour.

Checked into our hotel which we booked online through - The Hotel by Gold Dust . Located right in town and with parking nearby. This is a cute walkable down with a Wild West feel here. One of my favorite little towns on this trip.

Day 3

Tour Gold Mine Broken Boot gold: 2 hours (open 8:00 am - 5:00 pm)

We then took a 30 min narrated stage coach ride through town. $15.00 per person. 30 mins was long enough for the pretty rough ride. Not sure how anyone could have ridden it all day back in the day. We then drove to Sturigs A 30 min drive, and had lunch at the famous One Eyed Jack bar. Sturigs has the largest motorcycle rally in the United states. This rally welcomes over 500,000 motorcycles each year and lasts for 10 days beginning on the first day of August. One of the biggest draws to the area is the concert called Sturgis Buffalo Chip. It attracts large numbers of motorcycle enthusiasts and concertgoers from around the world. The locals actually leave town during this time to avoid the crowds.

After lunch we drove to Wall - approx. 1 hr trip. The hotel choices in this area are very limited and in my opinion very overpriced. We did enjoy having our fortune told by Zoltar, surprising enough it was spot on. Check into Americas Best Value Inn Wall hotel.

Day 4

We then drove to the Delta 9 Silo Minuteman Missile Silo (30 min drive) here you can look down into a silo, then we drove to the free Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Visitor center and museum, you have to make reservations almost a years in advance to go into a silo here, the museum has a short film and a self guided exhibit.

  • $12 reservations are required - (866) 601-5129. 1-2 hour tour-These reservations need to be made way in advance they only have 24 slots

We then stopped at the local supermarket to buy drinks and carrots to feed the prairie dogs at our next stop to the Badlands National Park. National Park Fee - we didn't have to pay an entrance fee because Allan is receiving a veterans disability claim from the military and was issued a lifetime pass. (pro tip) if this applies to you as well, get a lifetime pass it will save you a lot of money with free access to all National Parks. If not and you plan on visiting more than 1 national park in a calendar year, purchase the America the Beautiful pass ~$80.00 it will save you money and time going through the pay stations.

Visit the Badlands National Park – (11:00 am – 7:00 pm) visitor center. This park was truly stunning with the variety of landscapes. The first stop was the Door, Window and Notch trails. These beautiful trails were all out of the same parking lot and roughly 1 mile round trip each on a fairly flat surface. The Notch trail was the most challenging one and required steps and climbing, but well worth it. There are also porta potty type structures there. Make sure you have plenty of water and head protection. We were there early June so the temperatures were not too hot, YET.

We then drove the Badland Loop road and stopped on the side of the road to feed carrots to the Prairie Dogs. Cute little things. The landscape changed pretty quickly from rough terrain to lush green fields. We saw bighorn sheep, mountain goats and lots of bison.

That night we checked into a Magnuson Grand Rushmore View hotel in the town of Keystone. It had a nice view of Mt. Rushmore from a side angle. After 9:00 pm Mt. Rushmore is lit up. Really cool view. Keystone is definitely a tourist kind of town with souvenir shops and lots of restaurants to choose from.

Day 5

First thing in the morning we toured Mt Rushmore ($5 parking). We spent about 2 hours walking around and checked out the visitors center. Then headed to Custer State Park ($20.00 entrance fee) and spent the day mostly in the car driving around. We took the Ironman Loop stopped at Sylvan Lake to stretch our legs and climb around on some rocks. This was a great place for a picnic lunch. Later that day we did some sightseeing of wildlife on the wildlife loop. We stop to feed the mules. Apparently they were left when the gold miners left the area. They enjoyed the carrots we offered them. We stopped to check out the Bison Center. We learned a lot about bison and especially the round up that happens in September every year. Something we might want to visit sometime. The center is free to the public. We then took the loop where all the Bison hang out. At one point two adult bison came up to the car in front of us and were licking the dust off the side of the car. There was lots of baby bison grazing with their family members. You will also see little mounds of cute little chirping prairie dogs popping out of their homes. We continued on to the windy Needles Hwy. This is a popular highway among motorcycles, due to the hairpins turns, tunnels cut through the mountains and awesome views of Mount Rushmore on several of the turns. The tunnels are rough cut, extremely narrow and only enough room for one car at a time. Larger vehicles, i.e. RVs will not make it through. We saw a Ford Exhibition turn around. They will tell you this as you enter the park.

We ended our day by returning to Mt Rushmore to view the 9:00 pm evening show. It's a very nice presentation and patriotic, they ask Veterans to come down to the stage at the end of the show. After the show we headed back to Rapid City and got a hotel close to the airport for our early flight back to DCA the next day.

This trip was amazing, we had a wonderful time and we highly recommend visiting South Dakota.

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