How Far is Custer State Park from Mount Rushmore?

Seema Hazell

Updated on:

How Far is Custer State Park from Mount Rushmore

Custer State Park is approximately 17 miles from Mount Rushmore. The drive takes about 30 minutes.

Nestled in South Dakota’s Black Hills, Custer State Park offers a vibrant contrast to the stoic grandeur of Mount Rushmore National Memorial. As one of the largest state parks in the United States, Custer spans a rugged terrain abundant with wildlife, scenic drives, and outdoor activities.

Visitors can smoothly transition from the awe-inspiring view of presidential figures carved into granite to the natural splendor of the park’s rolling plains and granite peaks. This proximity allows tourists to immerse themselves in American history and the wilderness without spending much time traveling. Custer’s convenient location near Mount Rushmore makes it an essential stop for travelers seeking a comprehensive experience of South Dakota’s historical landmarks and natural beauty.

Unveiling The Magnificence Of The Black Hills

Nestled in the heart of South Dakota, the Black Hills rise as a sanctuary of natural beauty and history. This region is a tapestry of dense forests, granite peaks, and clear blue skies. Two of its gems, Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore, sit in close proximity, beckoning adventurers and history buffs alike.

Custer State Park Highlights

Custer State Park is a haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. Sprawling over 71,000 acres, this park boasts scenic drives like Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road. Visitors can explore on foot, by bike, or even by horseback. Key features include:

  • Sylvan Lake: A serene spot perfect for picnics or kayak excursions.
  • Wildlife Loop Road: Home to bison, elk, and prairie dogs.
  • Hiking trails: Over 100 miles for all skill levels.

Custer State Park’s visitor centers offer interactive exhibits. Campgrounds provide a place to rest under the stars.

Mount Rushmore’s Iconic Sculpture

Mount Rushmore National Memorial shines as a symbol of democracy. The faces of four presidents, carved into granite, watch over the hills. This sculpture attracts over two million visitors each year. Highlights include:

  • The Grand View Terrace: Offers a full view of the memorial.
  • The Presidential Trail: A walking path for closer views of the sculpture.
  • The Sculptor’s Studio: Displays the tools and history of the carving.

The evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore is a sight to behold. Each season brings a new perspective to this historic site.

Mapping The Journey

Planning a trip from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore offers an adventure through the heart of South Dakota’s spectacular scenery. Exploring the roads, distances, and breathtaking routes ensures travelers can soak in every moment of the journey.

Roads That Connect

The primary route linking these two iconic destinations is the picturesque Iron Mountain Road. Winding through the Black Hills, travelers are treated to tunnels framing Mount Rushmore, pigtail bridges, and granite spires.

  • Iron Mountain Road (US Highway 16A) leads north from Custer State Park.
  • Expect awe-inspiring views and possible wildlife encounters.
  • Allow extra time for stops at scenic overlooks and photo ops.

Distance In Miles And Kilometers

The trip is not just about miles covered, but the memories created along the way.

MilesApproximately 17 miles
KilometersAbout 27 kilometers

The journey typically takes around 40 minutes, depending on traffic and stops.

Navigating The Scenic Route

Traveling from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore unveils a journey through nature’s artistry. This scenic route offers more than just a drive; it’s an experience. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Black Hills.

Driving Directions

The trip spans 20 miles and takes roughly 40 minutes. From Custer State Park, connect to US-16A E. Follow this picturesque road to SD-244 W, leading directly to Mount Rushmore.

Landmarks On The Way

Prepare for stunning encounters with nature and history while you drive:

  • Iron Mountain Road – a marvel with pigtail bridges.
  • Needles Highway – view granite spires reaching the sky.
  • Wildlife sightings, like bison or pronghorn.
  • Historic Doane Robinson Tunnel – capture Mount Rushmore through its portal.

Estimated Travel Times

Exploring the majestic landscapes of South Dakota’s Black Hills? You might wonder about the distance between two iconic landmarks: Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore. Knowing the travel times can help plan your adventure. Below are the details for both car journeys and other transport options.

By Car

Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore is a short trip. A car ride usually takes around 30 minutes. The route is scenic and well-marked, making it an easy drive. Consider these steps for the car journey:

  1. Start from Custer State Park Visitor Center.
  2. Follow the signs to SD-244 West.
  3. Drive straight until you see Mount Rushmore.

Travel tip: Check the weather and road conditions before you start. Summer can be busy, so start early to avoid traffic.

Alternative Modes Of Transportation

If you’re not driving, other choices exist. Travel times may vary. Here’s a quick look:

ModeEstimated TimeNotes
Shuttle Bus45-60 minutesMay include stops.
Bicycle2-3 hoursFor the active traveler.
Guided TourVariesIncludes commentary.

Shuttle buses run seasonally. Check schedules ahead of time. Bicycles are perfect for the outdoorsy types. Guided tours offer insights into the landmarks.

Best Times To Visit

Planning a trip to Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore? The time you choose can make a big difference. Each season offers unique experiences. So, let’s dive in to find out when the best time is to visit these iconic landmarks.

Seasonal Considerations

Visiting iconic sites requires a bit of weather planning. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Spring – The park comes to life with fresh foliage and wildlife.
  • Summer – Warm and busy, perfect for camping and hiking.
  • Fall – Witness a colorful transformation and mild temperatures.
  • Winter – Experience tranquil beauty with fewer visitors and snow-capped monuments.

Visitor Traffic Trends

Knowing when the crowds hit is key. Below is a breakdown of traffic trends:

SeasonVisitor Traffic
SpringIncreasing, but still manageable.
SummerPeaks as the most popular time to visit.
FallDips after Labor Day, resulting in a quieter experience.
WinterLowest, ideal for avoiding crowds.

Activities Along The Route

Traveling from Mount Rushmore to Custer State Park unveils a world bursting with excitement. The short jaunt between these iconic locations is not just a drive. It’s a chance for adventure and cultural enrichment. Ready to explore?

Outdoor Adventures

The journey offers abundant outdoor activities. Enjoy these as you wind your way through the picturesque landscape:

  • Hiking trails abound, ranging from leisurely walks to challenging treks.
  • Discover crystal-clear lakes, perfect for a sunny picnic or a refreshing swim.
  • Try your hand at fishing in serene streams teeming with trout.
  • Join a guided horseback tour and ride through lush meadows and towering pines.
  • Spot local wildlife on a scenic drive through the park’s varied landscapes.

Cultural Stops

Culture enthusiasts will find plenty to dive into. Notable spots include:

Crazy Horse MemorialLearnImmerse in Native American history.
Black Hills PlayhouseWatchExperience local theater productions.
Hill CityExploreBrowse art galleries and boutiques.
KeystoneDiscoverWalk through this quaint historic town.

Planning Your Itinerary

Embarking on a journey through America’s scenic landscapes, many adventurers find themselves plotting a route between Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore. Navigating the Black Hills of South Dakota calls for a well-prepared itinerary. Key to a memorable trip is knowing where to rest and refuel. Let’s dive into the essentials, detailing nearby accommodations and eateries.


Finding a place to stay that’s both comfortable and convenient is crucial for any traveler. Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore offer various lodging options:

  • Rustic Cabins: Immerse in nature without sacrificing comfort.
  • Cozy Lodges: Unwind with modern amenities after an eventful day.
  • Campsites: Connect with the great outdoors under a starlit sky.

Options range from luxury resorts to budget-friendly motels. Plan ahead to secure the best spot for your stay. Here’s a quick look at potential choices:

TypeDistance to Mount RushmoreAmenities
Luxury Resort15 milesSpa, Wi-Fi, Restaurant
Motel3 milesFree Parking, Pool

Places To Eat

Nourishment is part of the adventure. Mouthwatering meals await at local dining spots. Satisfy your hunger with options that cater to every palate:

  1. Family Diners: Enjoy home-style cooking in a friendly atmosphere.
  2. Grill Pubs: Relish in hearty meals and craft beers.
  3. Cafés & Bistros: Perfect for a light meal or a gourmet coffee.

Whether looking for a quick bite or a fine dining experience, the area has much to offer. Here are some favorites:

RestaurantTypeDistance to Custer State Park
The Lodge’s RestaurantLocal CuisineInside Park
Legends GrillBurgers & Steaks6 miles

Extending Your Adventure

Witnessing the majestic faces of Mount Rushmore is truly awe-inspiring, but the journey doesn’t end there. Custer State Park beckons just a short drive away, promising more adventures in the scenic Black Hills. Let’s extend the exploration and uncover the treasures nearby.

Nearby Attractions

Just a stone’s throw from Mount Rushmore, an array of attractions awaits to amaze every traveler:

  • Needles Highway – A winding masterpiece of scenic views.
  • Crazy Horse Memorial – Pay homage to the Native American culture.
  • Wind Cave National Park – Explore intricate underground beauties.
  • Jewel Cave – Discover the world’s third-longest cave.
  • Hill City – Enjoy quaint shops and local wineries.

Extending Your Stay In The Black Hills

Seize the opportunity to immerse yourself fully in this vibrant region:

Rustic lodgesHiking trailsLocal cuisine
Cozy cabinsWildlife viewingMountain picnics
CampsitesFishing spotsCampfire cooking

Extend your stay to experience all the Black Hills offer.

  1. Book extra nights in serene settings.
  2. Join guided tours to learn local secrets.
  3. Relax in natural hot springs after long hikes.

Treat yourself to an extended adventure where memories last a lifetime.


Exploring the majestic beauty of South Dakota’s landmarks is an unforgettable experience. Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore lie a mere 30 miles apart. This makes for a convenient day trip, packed with stunning scenery and rich history. Don’t miss the chance to witness these iconic treasures up close.

Hit the road and enjoy the journey between these two unforgettable destinations.

Leave a Comment