Entrance to Mount Rushmore surrounded with US flags and Mount Rushmore in the background, South Dakota

Can you see Mount Rushmore from the road?

Published by Pat Dorri on July 3 2023

Mount Rushmore is undoubtedly one of the most famous landmarks in the US. Located in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, the detailed face sculptures stand around 60 feet high, and it's easy to see why over 2 million visitors a year make the trip to marvel at the incredible granite carvings.

It is possible to see Mount Rushmore from the road, although it can be difficult to clearly see all of the presidents. Parking up closer to the mountain is the ideal way to view all four, after a drive through the stunning wilderness of South Dakota.

Continue reading to find out how to best see Mount Rushmore in all its glory, and other amazing things to see and do nearby on a drive to see this famous monument.

Can you see Mount Rushmore from the road?

You can see Mount Rushmore from the road, and you can get different views of it this way depending on your approach route. As you approach on SD-244, you can see the faces of the presidents, carved impressively into the mountainside.

You can choose to pull over at Mount Rushmore Profile View, although you can only really see George Washington clearly from here.

Profile of George Washington carving at Mount Rushmore National Monument, South Dakota
You can enjoy many different and incredible views of Mount Rushmore as you drive through South Dakota.

If you are approaching from the south along Iron Mountain Road, then there are several opportunities to see Mount Rushmore. The road was designed to offer up excellent views of the mountain, and some of the tunnels give a brilliant view of the faces as you exit, being perfectly in line with the monument.

While it is possible to see Mount Rushmore from the road, the best way to experience it is to visit the memorial and get as close as possible on foot, offering some fantastic photo opportunities.

The Black Hills cover an area of over 5,000 square miles and extend from South Dakota into the neighboring state of Wyoming. They are culturally and spiritually significant to the indigenous Native American communities and you should always be respectful of their culture when driving through the area.

How to reach Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota and is accessed from all directions along the short State Highway, SD-244.

The road itself is an easy drive with good access to the National Memorial, although the area is quite mountainous, and slower vehicles may hold up the traffic. There are overtaking lanes on some of the inclines to help the traffic flow and allow overtaking if needed.

Once you've arrived at the National Memorial car park, hiking the President's Trail allows you to get within a few hundred feet of the monument, and there are many viewpoints along the trail giving the clearest sightings of the famous faces.

Wide view of famous US Presidents on Mount Rushmore National Monument, against blue skies, South Dakota
A visit to Mount Rushmore is certainly a bucket-list destination ticked off the list. What a view!
Hugo Brizard - YouGoPhoto/Shutterstock.com

Driving to Mount Rushmore from Denver

The city of Denver in Colorado is located around 370 miles to the south of Mount Rushmore. The route begins by taking the I-25 heading north, passing Boulder, on the way to Fort Collins, before arriving in Cheyenne after around 100 miles.

Here you can learn all about the history and culture of the American West at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.

Leaving Cheyenne, the route follows US-85 N to Lusk, where it becomes the US-18 E, taking you through the Custer State Park and Crazy Horse Memorial.

As you drive through the beautiful wilderness of South Dakota on US-385 N, you'll join the Needles Highway and then join SD-244, with stunning views across to Black Elk Peak before arriving at Mount Rushmore. The route takes around 6 hours without allowing for stopping off at the various attractions and viewpoints along the way.

Driving to Mount Rushmore from Minneapolis

Minneapolis lies due east of Mount Rushmore, in the state of Minnesota. The route takes you through the heart of the South Dakota Indian Reservations, and the 600-mile drive will take around 9 hours.

The route begins on the I-35W heading south out of Minneapolis, and then joining the US-169 S as you head past the Wilkie Unit National Wildlife Refuge before continuing onwards to Mankato.

You'll pass Minneopa State Park before joining MN-60 W taking you over Lake Crystal and onwards past Madelia to Worthington.

Here the route takes you onto I-90 W passing Sioux Falls, Yankton Reservation, and Crow Creek Reservation, the home of the Dakota Sioux Native Americans, after who the state was named.

The route continues past Murdo and Wall to Box Elder, where you'll join the US-16 and head south through Bear Country to Mount Rushmore.

Panoramic view of Black Hills, reflected in the water, with lush forests across the hills in background and against blue skies.
The journey towards Mount Rushmore is peppered with stunning views and landscapes including the Black Hills.
Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

Reaching Mount Rushmore from Omaha

The city of Omaha lies around 550 miles southeast of Mount Rushmore in the state of Nebraska. It lies on the Missouri River and is known for its vibrant cultural scene.

Leaving Omaha, the route heads west on the I-80 heading to the state capital of Lincoln, an excellent place to spend a few hours exploring, before continuing towards Fort Kearny State Historical Park. As the route starts to head north, you'll pass the Pony Express Station Museum in Gothenburg, before reaching North Platte.

The route then headings into the Nebraska National Forest, with excellent trails and opportunities to explore the great outdoors, before continuing north past Buffalo Gap, and the Wind Cave National Park, towards Custer State Park.

Continuing north, the route winds its way to Keystone before passing Rushmore Tramway Adventures and arriving at Mount Rushmore.

Our table below is a helpful guide for planning your trip to Mount Rushmore from other parts of the US.

Driving to Mount Rushmore from major cities nearby.
Origin cityDistanceTime
Denver370 miles6 hours
Minneapolis600 miles9 hours
Omaha550 miles8 hours
Bozeman (Gateway to Yellowstone National Park)510 miles7 hours 40 minutes
Kansas City730 miles10 hours 30 minutes
Chicago940 miles13 hours 30 minutes
Las Vegas1,020 miles15 hours 40 minutes

Can you visit Mount Rushmore for free?

Whilst there isn't actually a fee to visit the mountain itself, there is a $10 charge for parking, although this entitles you to unlimited entry to the memorial car park for one year from the date of purchase.

Whilst it is possible to take in views of the mountain from the many viewpoints that line the route, there is no better way to see the monument than parking at the memorial and exploring the area, and learning all about its history.

You can also take a trip to the visitor information center and the Lincoln Borglum visitor center and Museum, where you can learn all about the life of the sculptor.

Unique perspective directly under the carving of Mount Rushmore from The Presidential Trail, Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, USA
Once you arrive at Mount Rushmore head along the Presidential Trail for the best views up close.
EWY Media/Shutterstock.com

Things you need to know about driving to Mount Rushmore

The journey to Mount Rushmore is enjoyable and quite straightforward, but here are a few things to consider before making the trip.

  • The Mount Rushmore National Memorial does get busy during peak tourist season so it's a good idea to arrive as early as possible to ensure you get a parking space.
  • Always check the weather forecast before you visit and dress appropriately. The weather will be warm in summer but there can be snowfall in winter.
  • There is ample parking for cars, but there is limited availability for RVs and trailers. Payment for parking is by card only.
  • Whilst you are in the area, do consider visiting other popular local attractions. Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park are both within 90 minutes of Mount Rushmore.

Things to do once you reach Mount Rushmore

The drive to Mount Rushmore through the Black Hills of South Dakota is spectacular in itself, with unforgettable views from every approach. Once you arrive, here are some of our favorite things to do:

  • Avenue of the Flags -From the car park, you'll walk along the promenade memorial. Flags from each US state line the way with views of Mount Rushmore at the end.
  • Grand View Terrace - The most popular spot to see the faces of Mount Rushmore. You'll find clear views. Top tip, from May to October, watch the lighting ceremony at night.
  • Presidential Trail - Take the scenic hike that'll take you closer to the sculptures. Prepare yourself for the stairs, and the stroll through the pine forests should take anywhere between 20 to 45 minutes.
  • Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center - Inside there's a 14-minute film detailing the history, methods, and significance of Mount Rushmore.
  • The Sculptors Studio - Here you can see a scale model and learn the process of how Gutzon Borglum carved the monumental masterpiece on the mountainside.
Flags from each US state line the way with views of Mount Rushmore in the background
Prepare to be wowed as you head towards the impressive entrance at Mount Rushmore.
CLS Digital Arts/Shutterstock.com

The scenic drive to Mount Rushmore is an excellent road trip in itself, through rolling hills, and vast open plains, it is an experience to remember. See who can catch the first glimpse of the monument from the road, before seeing the incredible carvings from close up, an awe-inspiring thrill for everyone.