How to Get to Mount Rushmore (Best Airports and Roads) (2024)

Mount Rushmore is an incredible place to visit on your next vacation, and I can’t wait for you to see it in person! In this article, I’ll walk you through the best airports to fly to and the most scenic roads near the memorial so you can get here in no time!

If you are flying to Mount Rushmore, the closest airport is the Rapid City Regional Airport, which is about 30 miles away. If you’d rather fly into a larger international airport, your options in the area are extremely limited.

Driving to Mount Rushmore? You’ll love the views and activities along Highway 385 or Highway 16A as you make your way to this park.

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My name is Ash, and I’m a former park ranger. I lived in South Dakota for a while, so I know this area well!

Let’s talk more about how to get to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, including important information regarding the best airports and roads.

Where is Mount Rushmore Located?

Mount Rushmore is located in western South Dakota near the borders of both Wyoming and Nebraska. It is approximately 30 minutes south of Rapid City, SD, 3.5 hours from Casper, WY, and 3 hours from Scottsbluff, NE.

Mount Rushmore is close to many notable attractions in the area, including Custer State Park, Wind Cave, and Badlands.

The area around Mount Rushmore is exciting and fun — there are so many things to see and do within a half an hour’s drive of the memorial. The closest towns to Mount Rushmore that provide amenities are Keystone to the east and Hill City to the west.

Keystone is a charming small town located within minutes of Mount Rushmore and it has unique lodging, dining, shopping, and activity options. Hill City is also nearby with similar amenities — you’ll find hotels, gas stations, a grocery store, restaurants, and souvenir shops here as well.

What is the Closest Airport to Mount Rushmore?

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Rapid City Regional Airport

The Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) is the closest airport to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which makes it my number one choice for flying to Mount Rushmore. If you fly into Rapid City, you can be at the memorial seeing those sculpted heads in about 45 minutes!

The Rapid City airport is also super convenient if you’re hoping to visit all the cool sights in the Black Hills, including Badlands, Deadwood, Wind Cave, and Custer State Park.

You’ll probably end up on a connecting flight from another, bigger airport because this airport only receives direct flights from a few major U.S. cities, including Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and Phoenix. You can book your flight on a variety of airlines at any time of year, though, including United, Delta, Allegiant, and American Airlines.

There are some other regional airports in South Dakota and the surrounding area, but they’re all far away and offer fewer flight options than Rapid City.

What is the Closest International Airport to Mount Rushmore?

For the majority of people coming to Mount Rushmore, it will make the most sense to fly into the Rapid City Regional Airport. But if you’re planning on covering a lot of ground and don’t mind turning your vacation into a road trip, you can fly into an international airport instead.

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Casper International Airport

The Casper-Natrona County International Airport (CPR) is the closest international airport to Mount Rushmore. It’s around a 3.5-hour drive to get to the memorial from here.

The Casper Airport is in Wyoming, and it is the state’s only international airport. Flights are limited, especially if you’re hoping to fly direct. You’ll most likely have a layover in either Salt Lake City or Denver if you fly here. The major airlines that operate here are Delta and United.

Billings-Logan International Airport

The Billings International Airport (BIL) is the next closest international airport to Mount Rushmore. It’s about 5.5 hours from the airport over to Mount Rushmore, and this airport has various flight options from all of the major airlines.

If you drive straight to Mount Rushmore from Billings, you’ll probably take Highway 16, which will also put you close to Jewel Cave and Custer State Park.

Many people like to visit Yellowstone National Park and the South Dakota parks during the same trip. If you are planning on also visiting Yellowstone, you can fly into Billings (or Bozeman — that airport works too!) and then road trip out to South Dakota from there.

A sample route to do this would be Billings to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (1 hour), Little Bighorn to Devils Tower (3.5 hours), Devils Tower to Rapid City (2 hours), Rapid City for a few days to hit all the parks, then Rapid City to Cody (6 hours), Cody to Yellowstone (2 hours), Yellowstone and Grand Teton for a few days, then drive back up to Billings (3 hours).

That would be an epic road trip!

Denver International Airport

The Denver Airport is another international airport within striking distance of Mount Rushmore — even though it’s about 370 miles away! It takes about 6 hours to get to Mount Rushmore from this airport.

You’ll find plenty of flights from all major airlines in Denver (DEN), and you can also connect through this airport to get to the Rapid City Regional Airport if you’d like.

If you decide to fly into Denver, you can hit Rocky Mountain National Park while you’re in the area before driving up to the Rapid City area.

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Planning a trip to South Dakota can be overwhelming.

How do you make a solid plan if you’ve never been to the area? How do you keep everyone in your group excited and engaged?

You can spend hours on the internet searching for things to do, but you still won’t find the insider tips and first-hand knowledge that I’ve gained from working as a park ranger.

If you’re hoping to see the best sights without getting stuck in traffic, circling parking lots, or being surrounded by people, check out this South Dakota National Parks Itinerary.

You will see all of the can’t-miss spots, plus get lodging and dining guides, driving directions, and insider tips!

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The Best Roads Near Mount Rushmore

If you’re driving to Mount Rushmore, you’ll drive through some of the best scenery in the Black Hills! Here are some things you can expect on the roads in and around Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

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Highway 244 (Keystone to Highway 385)

Highway 244 is a short road that connects the town of Keystone with Highway 385. This is the road you will drive to reach Mount Rushmore! The entrance to the memorial is located along Highway 244 — you can’t miss it.

You’ll love the scenic views as you approach Mount Rushmore along this highway — we have even seen mountain goats up here! You’ll drive past Old Baldy Mountain and through the Black Hills National Forest along this route, so there are some great hiking options along the way. The road also goes right past Horsethief Lake, which is a great place to camp or picnic.

Highway 244 is a two-lane highway that stays open year-round and is safe for RVs.

Iron Mountain Road (Custer State Park to Highway 244)

The Iron Mountain Road is one of the most fun drives to take in Custer State Park, and it leads right to Mount Rushmore! You’ll find this road in the northeastern corner of the state park (near the East Entrance) and it connects you to Highway 244 just outside of Keystone.

This road is famous because it was intentionally built with over 300 curves so that you’re forced to drive slowly and enjoy the surrounding forests. You’ll pass through several tunnels that perfectly frame your view of Mount Rushmore, and I love this unique way of seeing the memorial. If you want views of Mount Rushmore as you drive, you need to drive north along the road (starting in Custer State Park and ending at Highway 244).

If you decide to take this scenic route to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, you will need to pay an entrance fee into Custer State Park. Portions of this road are closed from October – March. This road is difficult to drive in an RV because of all the curves and tunnel heights (13′ wide and 11′ tall).

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Needles Highway (Custer State Park to Highway 244)

The Needles Highway starts in the northernmost part of Custer State Park and ends near Legion Lake and Highway 16A. This road is one of the coolest places in the state park — if you’re looking for a unique and highly scenic drive, you’ll love it!

This road is well-loved because of the breathtaking rock formations in this area — you’ll drive right through the rocks that look like needles stretching into the sky. The most famous is Needle’s Eye, a narrow tunnel through a rock formation that resembles a sewing needle. Cathedral Spires is another beautiful and dramatic area along this drive.

You’ll also pass by the beautiful Sylvan Lake, which has some lodging options and is the perfect place to go paddleboarding. Sylvan Lake is about 30 minutes from Mount Rushmore.

Be aware that the Needles Highway is curvy, narrow, and unsuitable for RVs, especially due to several small tunnels along the way (8’4″ wide and 11’3″ tall). It closes during the winter months (usually from around October-March). If you decide to take this scenic route to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, you will need to pay an entrance fee into Custer State Park.

Highway 385 (Deadwood to Wind Cave)

Technically, Highway 385 starts up near Deadwood (also a fun stop to add to your South Dakota itinerary), but if you’re visiting the Mount Rushmore area, you’ll likely access this road from around Hill City.

As you drive along Highway 385, you’ll pass through Hill City, a fun historical town with charm and good souvenir shopping. Just south of Hill City is where you’ll find Highway 244, which leads straight to Mount Rushmore and Keystone.

If you stay on Highway 385 heading south, you’ll reach the town of Custer, passing the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park along the way.

From Custer, Highway 385 continues south and takes your right into Wind Cave National Park.

This road is a 2-lane, RV-friendly road that doesn’t close seasonally.

Highway 16 (Rapid City to Keystone)

To get to Mount Rushmore from Rapid City, you’ll hop on Highway 16 before cutting down to Highway 16A to reach Keystone and Highway 244 to the memorial.

This is a multi-lane highway that stays open year-round and is good for RVs.

This information should help you get to Mount Rushmore fast — there are so many incredible adventures waiting for you in the Black Hills!

More Mount Rushmore Trip Planning Information

South Dakota Parks Itinerary — a detailed hour-by-hour sightseeing schedule.
How Many Days Should I Spend at Mount Rushmore? — itinerary ideas.
The Best Time to Visit — what to expect during each month of the year.
Weather, Hours, and Closures — important weather info and common closures.
Where Should I Stay? — the best options in and around the park.
All About Camping — learn about the park’s campgrounds and how to get a site.
5 Things You Can’t Miss on Your First Visit — the top 5 spots.
The Best Easy Hikes — the perfect trails for kids, wheelchairs, and beginners.
The Best Things to Do — activities for every adventurer.
The Ultimate Mount Rushmore Trip Planning Guide — everything you need to know.

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How to Get to Mount Rushmore (Best Airports and Roads) (2024)
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