Chicago To MT Rushmore Road Trip: The 10 Best Stops

road trip: 10 best stops

Table of Contents

Embark on an unforgettable adventure with a Chicago to MT Rushmore road trip, where you’ll journey through the heart of America’s stunning landscapes. This iconic road trip offers a perfect blend of urban exploration and natural beauty, making it a must-do for travel enthusiasts.

Spanning approximately 800 miles, the route from Chicago to MT Rushmore offers a variety of options for road trippers. One popular route takes you through the scenic landscapes of Wisconsin and Minnesota before reaching the majestic Black Hills of South Dakota. Travel time can vary depending on traffic and stops along the way, but typically ranges from 12 to 14 hours.

Top stops along the Chicago to MT Rushmore road trip include the vibrant city of Madison, Wisconsin, where you can explore the historic State Capitol and enjoy local cuisine. As you continue your journey, make a pit stop at the picturesque city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, known for its stunning waterfalls and vibrant arts scene. Finally, arrive at the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial, where you can marvel at the larger-than-life sculptures of past U.S. presidents.

Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply seeking a memorable road trip experience, the Chicago to MT Rushmore road trip offers something for everyone. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to create lasting memories on this epic journey through the heartland of America.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Essential Information

– Route options: Easily accessible from Chicago to Mt. Rushmore route.
– Opening hours: Varies by attraction, typically 9 am to 6 pm.
– Fee: Admission prices vary per attraction.
– Visit duration: 1-2 days ideal for exploring.
– Ideal for: Families, adventure seekers, nature lovers.

Why is it a must stop

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, is a must-stop on your road trip for its thrilling water parks that offer a refreshing break from the drive. Dive into the fun at Noah’s Ark Waterpark, the largest in the U.S., with slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers for all ages. For a more laid-back experience, take a scenic boat tour along the Wisconsin River, marveling at the stunning rock formations that line the shores.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the hiking trails at Devil’s Lake State Park, where panoramic views await at the summit. Don’t miss the chance to zip line through the lush forests or go on a thrilling jet boat ride for an adrenaline rush. After a day of adventure, unwind with a leisurely stroll through downtown Dells, filled with charming shops and eateries offering local delicacies.

Whether you’re seeking heart-pounding excitement or a relaxing retreat, Wisconsin Dells has something for everyone to enjoy on your road trip journey.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Interstate 94 West
– Opening Hours: Varies by attraction
– Fee: Some attractions may have admission fees
– Visit Duration: 1-2 days
– Ideal For: Families, outdoor enthusiasts, art lovers

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 outdoor enthusiasts, Minneapolis boasts an extensive park system, including Minnehaha Park and Falls. Take a leisurely stroll along the trails, admire the stunning waterfall, and have a picnic in the scenic surroundings. If you’re feeling more adventurous, rent a bike and explore the city’s numerous bike paths and lakes.

Art lovers will appreciate the Minneapolis Institute of Art, home to a vast collection of artworks spanning thousands of years and various cultures. The museum offers free admission and is a great way to spend a few hours immersing yourself in world-class art.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Walker Art Center, known for its contemporary art exhibitions and iconic sculpture garden. Marvel at the unique artworks, including the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, a must-see photo spot for visitors.

In the evening, head to the historic Warehouse District for a taste of Minneapolis’ vibrant nightlife. Explore the numerous bars, restaurants, and live music venues that cater to a diverse range of tastes.

With its blend of shopping, outdoor activities, art, and entertainment, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a must-stop destination on your road trip from Chicago to Mount Rushmore.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Interstate 90 or scenic routes through South Dakota
– Opening Hours: Falls Park is open 24/7, Visitor Center 9am-9pm
– Fee: Free admission to Falls Park
– Visit Duration: 2-3 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 natural beauty and unique attractions. Begin your visit at Falls Park, where the cascading waterfalls of the Big Sioux River create a picturesque backdrop for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. Don’t miss the historic Queen Bee Mill and the iconic observation tower offering panoramic views of the falls.

For a taste of local culture, explore the SculptureWalk, featuring over 50 outdoor sculptures by artists from around the country. Wander through downtown Sioux Falls to discover charming boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes. Be sure to sample some local cuisine at one of the many restaurants offering farm-to-table dishes and craft brews.

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the outdoor recreational opportunities in Sioux Falls, from hiking and biking along the extensive trail system to kayaking or paddleboarding on the river. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species at the Outdoor Campus or the Great Plains Zoo.

Before you continue your journey to Mount Rushmore, take a moment to soak in the serene beauty of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and create lasting memories of your road trip adventure.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: I-90 W from Chicago to Badlands Loop Road
– 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.

Exploring the Badlands Loop Road provides stunning panoramic views of the park, perfect for capturing memorable photos. Hiking trails like the Notch Trail and Door Trail offer opportunities to immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the park, with chances to spot wildlife such as bison and bighorn sheep along the way.

For those seeking a more leisurely experience, the Badlands Scenic Byway allows for a scenic drive through the park, showcasing the diverse terrain and geological formations. Don’t miss the chance to stargaze at night, as the park’s dark skies offer a perfect backdrop for observing the cosmos.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or simply looking to appreciate the natural wonders of the American Midwest, Badlands National Park is a road trip stop that promises unforgettable adventures and breathtaking vistas.

Wall Drug, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Interstate 90
– Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Families, road trippers

Why is it a must stop

Wall Drug, South Dakota is a must-stop on your road trip for its unique blend of history, shopping, and quirky attractions. As you pull off Interstate 90, you’ll be greeted by the iconic Wall Drug signs beckoning you to explore. Start your visit by browsing the Western-themed shops offering everything from cowboy boots to Native American crafts. Don’t miss the chance to sample their famous homemade donuts and 5-cent coffee.

For a dose of history, step into the Wall Drug Backyard where you can see a replica of a 19th-century Western town complete with a jail and old-fashioned photo studio. Kids will love the animatronic T-Rex and the opportunity to pan for gold. Be sure to snap a photo with the giant jackalope statue outside.

Before you hit the road again, make a pit stop at the Wall Drug CafĂ© for a hearty meal or grab some souvenirs to remember your visit. Whether you’re looking for a break from driving, a taste of Americana, or just a fun detour, Wall Drug, South Dakota offers a memorable experience for all travelers passing through.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Interstate 90
– 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

Deadwood, South Dakota, is a must-stop on your road trip for its rich history and exciting attractions. Start your visit by exploring the historic Main Street, lined with charming shops, restaurants, and casinos. Don’t miss a visit to the Mount Moriah Cemetery, the final resting place of Wild West legends like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

For a taste of the Old West, head to the Adams Museum to learn about Deadwood’s gold rush days and see artifacts from the town’s colorful past. If you’re feeling lucky, try your hand at one of the many casinos in town or catch a live reenactment of a shootout on the streets.

Nature lovers will appreciate a scenic drive through the Black Hills National Forest, where you can marvel at the stunning landscapes and maybe even spot some wildlife. For a dose of adrenaline, take a ride on the historic Deadwood Trolley or try your luck at gold panning in the surrounding creeks.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or just looking for some good old-fashioned fun, Deadwood, South Dakota, offers something for everyone on your road trip adventure.

Sturgis, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Easily accessible from Chicago to Mt. Rushmore route.
– Opening Hours: Varies by attraction, typically open during daylight hours.
– Fee: Some attractions may have entrance fees, while others are free to visit.
– Visit Duration: Half a day to a full day, depending on activities chosen.
– Ideal For: Road trippers looking for a unique stop with a mix of history and adventure.

Why is it a must stop

Sturgis, South Dakota, a small town with a big reputation, is a must-stop on your road trip for its iconic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Held annually in August, this event draws bikers from all over the country to revel in the camaraderie and adrenaline-pumping rides. Even if you’re not visiting during the rally, Sturgis offers a taste of Americana with its historic Main Street lined with quirky shops and local eateries.

For thrill-seekers, a visit to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame is a must. Dive into the rich history of motorcycles and the culture surrounding them. If you’re up for some outdoor adventure, take a scenic ride through the Black Hills National Forest or tackle the winding roads of the Needles Highway for breathtaking views.

History buffs will appreciate a visit to Fort Meade, a former military outpost that played a significant role in the region’s past. Explore the historic buildings and learn about the area’s frontier history. For a touch of nostalgia, swing by the Days of ’76 Museum to see artifacts and exhibits showcasing the town’s pioneer days.

Whether you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, history buff, or nature lover, Sturgis, South Dakota, offers a unique blend of attractions that make it a must-stop on your road trip itinerary. So rev up your engines and make a pit stop in this charming town for a taste of the Wild West with a modern twist.

Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Take US-14 W from Chicago towards Mt. Rushmore
– Opening Hours: Open year-round, 24/7
– Fee: No entrance fee
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal For: Nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts

Why is it a must stop

Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota, is a must-stop on your road trip from Chicago to Mt. Rushmore for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor activities. The canyon offers a range of attractions that will captivate any traveler seeking a scenic adventure.

One of the main draws of Spearfish Canyon is its hiking trails, which cater to all levels of fitness and experience. From leisurely strolls along the canyon floor to more challenging hikes up to panoramic viewpoints, there is a trail for everyone. Be sure to pack your camera to capture the breathtaking waterfalls, towering limestone cliffs, and lush forests that line the paths.

For those looking to add a bit of adrenaline to their road trip, Spearfish Canyon is also a popular spot for rock climbing and mountain biking. The rugged terrain and diverse landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts to test their skills and push their limits.

If you prefer a more relaxed experience, consider taking a scenic drive through the canyon. The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway offers unparalleled views of the canyon’s natural wonders, including Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls. Don’t forget to stop at one of the designated viewpoints to soak in the beauty of this hidden gem in the Black Hills.

Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or simply looking to break up your road trip with some fresh air and stunning scenery, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota, is a must-stop destination that will leave you in awe of the wonders of the great outdoors.

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

The Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota is a must-stop on your road trip for its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Witness the ongoing construction of the world’s largest mountain carving, depicting the legendary Lakota leader Crazy Horse. Explore the Indian Museum of North America to learn about Native American history and art. Take in the stunning views of the Black Hills region from the memorial grounds. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend cultural events and performances showcasing Native American traditions. Capture memorable photos of this iconic monument and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the Lakota people.

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Essential Information

– Route Options: Take I-90 W from Chicago, then head south on SD-79 S 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: Recommended to spend at least a full day exploring the park.
– Ideal For: Nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers.

Why is it a must stop

Custer State Park in South Dakota is a must-stop on your road trip for its diverse range of activities that cater to all types of travelers. The park offers scenic drives, including the iconic Wildlife Loop Road where you can spot bison herds, pronghorn antelope, and playful prairie dogs in their natural habitat.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, Custer State Park boasts numerous hiking trails that lead to stunning viewpoints overlooking the rolling hills and granite peaks. The park is also a haven for birdwatchers, with over 250 species of birds calling it home.

If you’re a history buff, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the historic State Game Lodge, once frequented by President Calvin Coolidge. The lodge offers a glimpse into the past and provides a charming setting for a meal or a relaxing break.

For a unique experience, consider taking a scenic drive along Needles Highway, known for its narrow tunnels and towering granite spires. The Needles Eye rock formation is a popular spot for photo opportunities and a memorable stop on your road trip.

Whether you’re looking to reconnect with nature, spot wildlife, or simply unwind in a picturesque setting, Custer State Park offers something for everyone and is a must-visit destination on your journey from Chicago to Mount Rushmore.

Share the Post:

Related Posts