Chicago To Mount Rushmore Road Trip: The 10 Best Stops

road trip: 10 best stops

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Embark on an unforgettable adventure with a Chicago to Mount Rushmore road trip! This iconic journey offers a perfect blend of scenic beauty, historical landmarks, and thrilling experiences. The route from Chicago to Mount Rushmore covers approximately 900 miles and can be completed in around 14-16 hours of driving time, depending on traffic and stops along the way.

As you hit the road, be prepared to be mesmerized by the diverse landscapes that unfold before you. From the bustling cityscape of Chicago to the serene countryside of the Midwest, each mile brings a new perspective. Some top stops for road trippers include the vibrant city of Milwaukee, the picturesque Badlands National Park, and the historic town of Deadwood.

For those seeking a more leisurely pace, consider taking the scenic route through Iowa and South Dakota, which offers stunning views of rolling hills and charming small towns. Alternatively, the more direct route through Wisconsin and Minnesota provides a quicker journey with easy access to major highways.

While traffic can vary depending on the time of year and day, planning your trip during off-peak hours can help minimize delays. Be sure to check for any road closures or construction updates along the way to ensure a smooth travel experience.

So pack your bags, fuel up your car, and get ready for an epic Chicago to Mount Rushmore road trip that promises adventure, discovery, and memories to last a lifetime.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Essential Information

– Route Options: I-90 W from Chicago to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I-90 W to I

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Essential Information

– Route Options: I-94 W from Chicago
– Opening Hours: Varies by attraction
– Fee: Some attractions may have admission fees
– Visit Duration: 1-2 days
– Ideal for: Families, history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts

Why is it a must stop

Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a vibrant city that offers a variety of attractions perfect for a road trip stop. Start your visit by exploring the iconic Mall of America, the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the United States. With over 500 stores, an indoor amusement park, and an aquarium, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

For a dose of culture, head to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, home to a diverse collection of over 90,000 artworks spanning 5,000 years. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the museum’s impressive exhibits, including works by renowned artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Warhol.

Nature lovers can escape the city hustle by visiting Minnehaha Park, known for its stunning 53-foot waterfall and scenic walking trails along the Mississippi River. Take a leisurely stroll, have a picnic, or rent a bike to explore the park’s natural beauty.

History buffs should not miss the Mill City Museum, a former flour mill turned into a museum that showcases the history of Minneapolis’s flour milling industry. Learn about the city’s industrial past through interactive exhibits and guided tours of the mill ruins.

Cap off your visit with a walk across the Stone Arch Bridge, offering panoramic views of the city skyline and the Mississippi River. This historic bridge is a popular spot for photos and a relaxing way to end your Minneapolis road trip stop.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route options: Interstate 90 or scenic route via Highway 14
– Opening hours: 24/7
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit duration: 2-4 hours
– Ideal for: Families, nature lovers, road trippers

Why is it a must stop

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a must-stop on your road trip for its stunning namesake waterfalls that cascade through the heart of the city. Begin your visit at Falls Park, where you can marvel at the powerful waterfalls and explore the walking paths that offer picturesque views. For a unique experience, take a stroll across the historic Queen Bee Mill ruins and learn about the city’s rich history.

After enjoying the falls, head to the SculptureWalk downtown to admire a diverse collection of outdoor sculptures by local and national artists. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Old Courthouse Museum, showcasing exhibits on the region’s past, including Native American artifacts and pioneer history.

For a taste of local culture, stop by the Sioux Empire Arts Council to view rotating art exhibitions featuring regional artists. If you’re a fan of craft beer, make sure to visit one of the city’s breweries for a refreshing pint and a glimpse into the thriving craft beer scene in Sioux Falls.

Before you continue your journey to Mount Rushmore, savor a meal at one of the city’s many dining options, ranging from cozy cafes to upscale restaurants offering farm-to-table cuisine. Whether you’re seeking natural beauty, cultural experiences, or culinary delights, Sioux Falls has something to offer every road tripper passing through South Dakota.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: I-90 W from Chicago to SD-240 W
– Opening Hours: 24/7, year-round
– Fee: $30 per vehicle
– Visit Duration: 1-2 days
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, road trippers

Why is it a must stop

When embarking on a road trip from Chicago to Mount Rushmore, a stop at Badlands National Park in South Dakota is a must for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. The unique landscape of rugged rock formations, deep canyons, and expansive prairies offers a one-of-a-kind experience that will leave you in awe.

Upon arrival, take a scenic drive along the Badlands Loop Road to marvel at the stunning panoramic views of the otherworldly terrain. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike one of the many trails that wind through the park, offering up-close encounters with the diverse flora and fauna that call this rugged environment home.

For those seeking a bit of adrenaline, rock climbing and camping are popular activities within the park. The night sky in Badlands National Park is a sight to behold, making it an ideal spot for stargazing and astrophotography.

Whether you’re stopping for a few hours or staying overnight, Badlands National Park is sure to leave a lasting impression and provide a memorable addition to your road trip itinerary.

Wall Drug, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Easily accessible from I-90, a popular route for road trips.
– Opening Hours: Open daily from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
– Fee: Free admission, but costs for activities and souvenirs.
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours ideal for a quick stop.
– Ideal For: Families, history buffs, and souvenir hunters.

Why is it a must stop

Wall Drug in South Dakota is a must-stop on your road trip for its unique blend of history, entertainment, and quirky attractions. As you pull off the highway, you’ll be greeted by the iconic Wall Drug signs, beckoning you to explore this legendary roadside attraction.

One of the main draws of Wall Drug is its Old West charm, transporting visitors back in time with its Western-themed buildings and d├ęcor. Stroll down the wooden boardwalks and browse through the shops filled with cowboy boots, Native American crafts, and souvenirs that capture the essence of the Wild West.

For a taste of nostalgia, don’t miss the famous free ice water at Wall Drug, a tradition that dates back to the 1930s when the store offered refreshment to weary travelers. Grab a cone of homemade ice cream or a freshly brewed cup of coffee to fuel your journey ahead.

Kids and adults alike will enjoy the various activities at Wall Drug, from panning for gold and exploring the Western art gallery to marveling at the animatronic T-Rex and hopping on the vintage carousel. Be sure to snap a photo with the giant jackalope or the larger-than-life fiberglass dinosaur outside the store.

Before you hit the road again, take a moment to soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Wall Drug, where the spirit of the Old West meets modern-day hospitality. Whether you’re looking for a quick break or a fun-filled pit stop, Wall Drug offers a memorable experience that captures the essence of Americana along your road trip adventure.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Interstate 90 West
– Opening Hours: Varies by attraction
– Fee: Some attractions may have entrance fees
– Visit Duration: Half a day to a full day
– Ideal for: History buffs, road trip enthusiasts

Why is it a must stop

When embarking on a road trip from Chicago to Mount Rushmore, a stop in Deadwood, South Dakota is a must for history buffs and adventure seekers alike. This iconic town, known for its Wild West history and vibrant atmosphere, offers a range of activities that are sure to captivate any traveler passing through.

One of the main draws of Deadwood is its rich history, particularly its association with legendary figures such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Visitors can step back in time by exploring historic sites like the Adams Museum, where artifacts and exhibits showcase the town’s colorful past. For those feeling lucky, a visit to one of the many casinos in town offers a chance to try their hand at gaming in a setting reminiscent of the Old West.

Nature enthusiasts will also find plenty to enjoy in Deadwood, with opportunities for hiking, biking, and even gold panning in the surrounding Black Hills. The scenic drives in the area provide breathtaking views of the rugged landscape, making for a memorable addition to any road trip itinerary.

Foodies will delight in the diverse dining options available in Deadwood, from hearty steakhouses to cozy cafes serving up local specialties. After a day of exploration, unwinding with a cold drink at one of the town’s historic saloons is the perfect way to end the evening.

Overall, Deadwood, South Dakota offers a unique blend of history, adventure, and entertainment that makes it a must-stop destination on any road trip through the heart of the American West.

Sturgis, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Take I-90 W from Chicago towards Mount Rushmore
– Opening Hours: Varies by attraction, typically 9 am to 5 pm
– Fee: Admission fees may apply for certain attractions
– Visit Duration: Half a day to a full day
– Ideal For: Road trippers, motorcycle enthusiasts, history buffs

Why is it a must stop

Sturgis, South Dakota, is a must-stop on your road trip from Chicago to Mount Rushmore for its unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventures. One of the main draws of Sturgis is its legendary motorcycle rally, attracting riders from all over the country. Even if you’re not a biker, the energy and excitement of the rally are infectious.

For history buffs, a visit to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame is a must. Explore the exhibits showcasing the evolution of motorcycles and the impact of biking culture on American society. Don’t miss the chance to see iconic bikes up close and learn about the pioneers of the motorcycle industry.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Sturgis as well. Take a scenic drive through the Black Hills National Forest or go hiking in the nearby Bear Butte State Park. For a more adrenaline-pumping experience, try your hand at off-road biking or zip-lining through the forest canopy.

After a day of exploring, unwind at one of Sturgis’ local eateries, offering hearty Midwestern fare and friendly hospitality. Whether you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, history buff, or nature lover, Sturgis, South Dakota, offers something for everyone on your road trip adventure.

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Take I-90 W from Chicago, then head south on US-16 W to reach Custer State Park.
– Opening Hours: Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day.
– Fee: $20 per vehicle for a 7-day pass.
– Visit Duration: Ideal for a half-day to full-day visit.
– Ideal For: Nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers.

Why is it a must stop

Custer State Park in South Dakota is a must-stop on your road trip from Chicago to Mount Rushmore for its stunning natural beauty and diverse outdoor activities. The park offers a range of attractions that cater to all types of travelers, making it a perfect destination for a memorable pit stop.

One of the main draws of Custer State Park is its scenic drives, including the iconic Wildlife Loop Road. This 18-mile route takes you through picturesque landscapes where you can spot a variety of wildlife such as bison, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep in their natural habitat. Don’t forget your camera as you’ll want to capture these incredible moments.

For those seeking more active pursuits, the park boasts numerous hiking trails that lead to breathtaking viewpoints and hidden gems. From easy strolls to challenging treks, there’s a trail for every skill level. The Cathedral Spires Trail and the Sylvan Lake Shore Trail are popular choices offering stunning vistas and opportunities to connect with nature.

If you’re a fan of water activities, Sylvan Lake is a must-visit spot within the park. Rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the crystal-clear waters surrounded by towering granite peaks. It’s a serene setting perfect for unwinding and enjoying the tranquility of the outdoors.

For a taste of the Old West, don’t miss the annual Buffalo Roundup where cowboys and cowgirls gather to herd the park’s bison population. This unique event provides a glimpse into the region’s rich history and is a highlight for visitors looking to experience a piece of Americana.

Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat in nature, Custer State Park offers something for everyone. So, make sure to include this gem in your road trip itinerary for an unforgettable experience in the heart of South Dakota’s natural wonders.

Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Take US-90 W from Chicago, then US-16 W to Crazy Horse Memorial.
– Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM daily.
– Fee: $12 per person, children under 6 free.
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours.
– Ideal for: Families, history buffs, nature lovers.

Why is it a must stop

When embarking on a road trip from Chicago to Mount Rushmore, a visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota is a must for those seeking a deeper understanding of Native American culture and history. The monumental sculpture, still a work in progress, pays tribute to the legendary Lakota leader Crazy Horse and serves as a symbol of Native American pride and resilience.

At the memorial, visitors can witness the ongoing construction of the colossal sculpture, which is set against the stunning backdrop of the Black Hills. Explore the Indian Museum of North America to learn about the diverse cultures and traditions of Native American tribes. Take a guided tour to gain insights into the artistic process behind the creation of the memorial and the significance of Crazy Horse’s legacy.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Crazy Horse Memorial offers hiking trails that provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, allowing you to connect with nature while appreciating the artistry and craftsmanship of the sculpture. Don’t miss the Native American Cultural Center, where you can engage in interactive exhibits and demonstrations showcasing traditional crafts and performances.

Whether you’re intrigued by history, art, or simply seeking a unique stop on your road trip, the Crazy Horse Memorial promises a memorable and educational experience that celebrates the rich heritage of Native American communities in the heart of South Dakota.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Interstate 90 West
– Opening Hours: 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM
– Fee: $10 per vehicle
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal For: Families, History Buffs

Why is it a must stop

Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota is a must-stop on your road trip for its iconic presidential sculptures carved into the granite face of the mountain. Visitors can marvel at the colossal heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The Avenue of Flags provides a patriotic backdrop, while the Sculptor’s Studio offers insights into the creation of this monumental masterpiece.

For a deeper understanding of the memorial’s significance, the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center showcases exhibits on the sculptors and the history of Mount Rushmore. Nature enthusiasts can explore the surrounding Black Hills region through hiking trails and scenic drives, offering breathtaking views of the memorial from different angles.

Don’t miss the evening lighting ceremony, where the faces of the presidents are illuminated against the darkening sky, creating a truly memorable experience. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or simply seeking an iconic American landmark, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a road trip stop that promises awe-inspiring sights and a glimpse into the nation’s past.

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