Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota. Summer day with clear skies

Road Trip from Seattle to Mount Rushmore

Updated by Pat Dorri on August 10 2023

Head out on an epic road trip from Seattle to Mount Rushmore and discover endless forests, stunning national parks, and breathtaking mountain scenery. You'll pass charming mountain communities and have plenty of opportunities for adventuring on the trails on your way to iconic Mount Rushmore.

The 1,330-mile road trip from Seattle to Mount Rushmore will take about 21 hours to drive. You'll visit Leavenworth, Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, Yellowstone National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Sandpoint, Whitefish and Glacier National Park.

This ultimate journey through the northwest of America will be sure to inspire you with its dreamy scenery and adventure-filled activities. Continue on to learn more about which routes to choose from, where to stay, and what to see and do on the way.

How far is Mount Rushmore from Seattle, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip route options between Seattle and Mount Rushmore
RouteDistanceDriving Time
The Yellowstone Route1,330 miles21 hours 10 minutes
The Glacier National Park Route1,380 miles23 hours 10 minutes

The Yellowstone Route will take you 1,330 miles in 21 hours and 10 minutes of driving time. This route is the shortest and will take you to the famous Yellowstone National Park on your way.

The Glacier National Park Route covers 1,380 miles with 23 hours and 10 minutes of driving time. This route brings you to the awe-inspiring Glacier National Park before heading to Mount Rushmore.

Either route you choose, we recommend taking six to seven days for this road trip to give you plenty of rest and time to see all the sights. Read below to learn more about these routes, where to stay, and what to do on your way.

Leavenworth, Washington, USA, February 1, 2020, View of Posthotel with reflection in river, from Enchantment Park.
You will fall in love with the Bavarian architecture of Leavenworth, which you can visit on both routes.
Mark A Lee/

Best road trip route from Seattle to Mount Rushmore

Choose the Yellowstone Route and discover the stunning Yellowstone National Park as well as the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth and the beautiful city of Spokane. Or choose the Glacier National Park Route, stopping by most of the attractions along the Yellowstone Route but taking a detour to the beautiful valleys and lakes of Glacier National Park.

The Yellowstone Route is shorter and more direct. It takes you from Seattle all the way to beautiful Mount Rushmore with plenty of sights and exciting stops along the way.

On the way, you'll stop in Leavenworth, an adorable Bavarian-themed town known for its festivals. Also, you'll get the chance to stay a night in Spokane, Washington, the largest city on this route.

Another highlight is a visit to Coeur D'Alene, a tourist favorite for its large spa and for being home to Idaho's top-rated golf course. Then, before reaching Mount Rushmore, you'll get to see Yellowstone National Park, one of the most-visited parks in the United States.

The Glacier National Park Route is a more leisurely nature-forward route that takes you from Seattle all the way to beautiful Mount Rushmore. Like the Yellowstone route, you'll get to make stops in Leavenworth, an adorable Bavarian-themed town known for its festivals, and Spokane, the largest city on this route and known for its many cultural offerings.

While visiting, keep in mind that Glacier National Park implements a vehicle reservation system from May 26th to September 10th, from 6am to 3pm (at the time of writing). Before visiting, please check online to see whether you might need a reservation.

You'll pass several stunning National Forests along the way, with the highlight being a visit to Glacier National Park. Then, stop in Sandpoint, a small city in Idaho known for its recreational highlights, and the town of Whitefish before making it to Mount Rushmore.

The Yellowstone Route

From Seattle, head east on US-2 to Leavenworth. From here, drive through the beautiful hillsides and farmland of central Washington State until you hit I-90.

Continue on I-90 to the city of Spokane. After enjoying this beautiful city's sights and attractions, hit the road and drive to Coeur d'Alene.

Drive further through the Idaho panhandle and into Montana. From here continue on until you reach Yellowstone National Park.

After spending time in this natural paradise, hit the I-90 southeast into Wyoming. Drive through northern Wyoming and into North Dakota until you get to your destination, the incredible Mount Rushmore.

Morning Glory pool from above. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. A deep hot spring, colored by the unique bacteria that thrive in Yellowstone.
Don't forget to visit Grand Prismatic's smaller cousin Morning Glory while visiting Yellowstone National Park.
Filip Fuxa/

The Glacier National Park Route

Starting in Seattle, head east on US-2 and pass Leavenworth. Continue on into the city of Spokane.

After enjoying the city, make your way north to Sandpoint, Idaho. Continue on into Montana and visit the town of Whitefish and the mesmerizing Glacier National Park.

Get back on route and continue on south through Great Falls and Billings, Montana. Drive into Wyoming and continue east until you reach North Dakota and the iconic Mount Rushmore.

Best places to stop between Seattle and Mount Rushmore

With so much to see and do along the way, you'll want to rest up and take advantage of all the sightseeing and outdoor adventure opportunities. We've included our top stopovers along the way plus our recommended hotels so you can rest in comfort and luxury.

Take in the nature in Spokane

About halfway on both routes is Spokane, the second largest city in Washington. This beautiful city has tons of fun attractions and is surrounded by pristine nature.

Spokane was the birthplace of Father's Day and in 1974, it hosted the World's Fair. The city boasts plenty of green spaces, from parks to world-class golf courses. It's also the host of Hoopfest, the world's largest basketball tournament.

View looking East from Harvard Road near the Spokane River Recreation Area in the Spokane Valley, Otis Orchards area of Spokane, Washington, USA.
Spokane is enchantingly scenic, especially in the fall. Make sure to visit Spokane River Recreation Area.
Kirk Fisher/

Once you're in Spokane, we recommend visiting the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. This amazing museum is located inside a historic building and offers plenty of exhibits about the area.

If you love nature, make sure to visit Manito Park. This beautiful botanical garden has some of the city's most stunning plant life and is perfect for a long walk after driving.

Once you arrive in Spokane, we recommend staying at the Hotel Indigo Spokane Downtown, an IHG Hotel. This hotel is situated in a historic building, combining heritage features and a luxurious modern style.

Rooms in this hotel are comfortable and spacious, with plenty of amenities and friendly staff who are always there to help. There's an on-site bar and a brasserie, so you can relax after a long drive.

The hotel is just a short walk away from many of downtown's restaurants, museums, and sights. You're also only a short walking distance from Spokane's GORGEOUS waterfront.

Rugged mountain views in Whitefish

About halfway on the Glacier National Park Route is the town of Whitefish. Here, you're only a short drive from Glacier National Park and the Rocky Mountains, with plenty of surrounding nature.

Whitefish is mainly known for its proximity to beautiful green spaces, where visitors can enjoy top-rated ski slopes, tons of outdoor recreation activities, a beautiful downtown area full of restaurants, bars, and some nightlife.

Glacier National Park Wildlife running in a lake with the mountains as the backdrop on a stunningly sunny day
Whitefish is the perfect base to explore the breathtaking Glacier National Park and its adorable wildlife.

Once you're in Whitefish, there are plenty of amazing things to do and see. First, make sure to visit the world-famous Glacier National Park. The biggest reason to visit Whitefish is for its proximity to this stunning park, where you can enjoy a hike or a kayak trip on one of the many lakes.

The first lake to see is Whitefish Lake. You'll love this beautiful lake near the downtown center, where you can even try out parasailing.

Although the town is famous for its nature and wildlife, you must take some time to visit downtown Whitefish. Take a day to explore the adorable shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants in this city's core.

Once you arrive, we recommend staying the night at the luxurious Pine Lodge on Whitefish River. This popular and highly-rated hotel is equipped with indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools, free parking, and free Wi-Fi.

Rooms are spacious and sometimes include a fully equipped kitchen, perfect for longer stays. Another plus is the stunning views of the surrounding nature from your room or patio.

The hotel is situated close to Glacier National Park and is very secluded. You're also close to downtown Whitefish, which makes it easy to go to and visit the incredible restaurants, bars, and sights.

Where to stay when you reach Mount Rushmore

Once you reach the beautiful Mount Rushmore, we recommend staying at the wonderful K Bar S Lodge, Ascend Hotel Collection. This luxurious hotel offers stunning views of Mount Rushmore and is located very close to the actual sculptures.

You'll enjoy a free deluxe continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and other amenities like newspapers and coffee. There's free parking, and every room is equipped with a TV so you can pull in and get right to relaxation.

The hotel is highly rated and features a lodge-style design. After seeing beautiful Mount Rushmore and the surrounding sights, take advantage of the free continental breakfast before you leave.

Things to see on a road trip from Seattle to Mount Rushmore

There's so much to see and do along the way from Seattle to Mount Rushmore. This amazing part of America will enchant you. Below are our recommended sights to stop off and see along the way.

The Yellowstone Route

  1. Rocky Mountain Museum - This wonderful museum showcases the Canadian pioneers who worked in the area's sawmills and lumber camps. Inside, you can buy plenty of homemade goods made by local artisans.
  2. Lolo National Forest - Visit Lolo National Forest, home to unreal wildlife, massive pines, and a favourite amongst local hikers.
  3. Bridger-Teton National Forest - Over 3.4 million acres cover this national forest. You'll see incredible wildlife and pristine forest. This place is one of a kind, and perfect for hikers and nature lovers.
  4. Jackson Lake Dam - This historic dam was built in 1916 and offers unparalleled panoramic views of the snow-capped Grand Teton Mountains and Jackson Lake.
USA, Wyoming, Bridger-Teton National Forest. Grizzly bear sow with spring cubs.
These majestic bears call the Bridger-Teton National Forest home. You can admire them from a safe distance during your visit!
Danita Delimont/

The Glacier National Park Route

  1. Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest - This massive national forest and park is full of grassy fields and mountains perfect for hiking, as well as rocky bluffs along the Missouri River.
  2. Sandpoint - Sitting on the shores of Idaho's largest lake, this adorable small city is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges.
  3. Whitefish - Make sure to stop by Whitefish, a popular starting point for adventurists visiting Glacier National Park and boasting tons of opportunities for indoor and outdoor activities!
  4. Glacier National Park - The highlight of this route is undoubtedly Glacier National Park, home to stunning meadows, melting glaciers and over 700 miles of trails.

Both Routes

  1. The Outback Kangaroo Farm - This beautiful animal sanctuary has tours and educational exhibits perfect for the whole family. Located in Arlington, WA, this is a must-stop for animal lovers.
  2. Little Mountain Park - Make sure to stop by this scenic park and enjoy the quiet natural setting. If you want a little more adventure, head out on the 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. You'll also get to visit the observation platforms from which you can view Mount Vernon and other stunning landscapes.
  3. Leavenworth - Discover this adorable town, located along the Cascade Loop, and made to resemble a Bavarian village; also known for the many events and festivals it hosts year-round.
  4. Coeur d'Alene - Visit beautiful Coeur d'Alene, located right outside of Spokane and boasting some great attractions, including a massive spa.
  5. Spokane - A must-see on this route., Spokane is the only large city on the itinerary and has tons on offer when it comes to cultural attractions!
  6. Pictograph Cave State Park - Visit this beautiful park to explore the state's prehistory. The grounds contain three caves with ancient pictographs that are thought to be around 2000 years old.
  7. Bighorn National Forest - Experience the breathtaking scenery and diverse recreational spaces in the beautiful Bighorn National Forest.
Rocky beach onLake Coeur d'Alene with shoreline background
Spend some time by the beautiful shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene.
James Sakaguchi/

Best time to go on a road trip from Seattle to Mount Rushmore

You can visit Mount Rushmore any time of the year. The most popular time to visit is summer, when warm temperatures attract tourists from around the country and beyond, which means you can expect higher tourism numbers and accommodation rates.

Summer tends to be the rainiest season, so make sure you check ahead for rainfall before visiting. Temperatures range from the mid-fifties to mid-eighties Fahrenheit.

Winter is a good time to visit Mount Rushmore, especially if you don't mind cold temperatures and have cozy winter clothing. Temperatures range between 15 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Accommodations will typically be lower in price due to less tourism during this season. So, if you want a good deal and don't mind the cold, winter would be an incredible way to see this iconic landmark.

The best time to visit, according to many people, is during the shoulder seasons, when you can avoid the influx of tourists as well as the colder winter temperatures.

Spring and fall temperatures range between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Some other benefits of traveling here during this season are the spring flowers and fall colors, which can be especially striking paired next to this monument.

There aren't many festivals or events happening at Mount Rushmore, though nearby Rapid City offers a few events throughout the year, including Oktoberfest, the Cruiser Car Show, and the Black Hills Renaissance Festival.