The Road To Rushmore Itinerary – Day 1
When you arrive in Rapid City an excellent way to see the city is to ride the City View Trolley. The City View Trolley is available and convenient for your dining, shopping and sightseeing needs. You can get off and on with no extra charge. Popular stops include: Storybook Island, Dinosaur Park, Stavkirk Chapel, Cleghorn Springs Fish Hatchery, and the Journey Museum. The trolley runs Monday – Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can catch the trolley at the Journey Museum. The hotel front desk will have a trolley schedule.
An interesting attraction in the downtown area is the City of Presidents. While wandering through downtown Rapid City you’re likely to encounter George Washington, Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon- all in bronze. In fact, life-sized bronze sculptures all the American Presidents are located on street corners throughout Rapid City’s business district. You can pick up a sculpture maps and other information at the City of President’s Information Center, located at the corner of Seventh and Main Street (look for James Monroe).
Spend the evening relaxing at your hotel. Get ready for a busy three days.
Let the fun begin! Take Highway 16 south out of Rapid City and proceed to Hill City. As you have noticed, you are surrounded by some of the most impressive scenery in the world. What better way to relax and soak it all in than a ride on the 1880 Train? Departing out of Hill City, this vintage steam train is famous for its stunning scenic route, old world charm, and the unforgettable encounter of a bellowing engine and whining whistle. Approximately two hours round trip, this tour takes you to Keystone and returns you to Hill City.
After checking out main street, head south out of Hill City on Highway 385 and take a left on Highway 87. You will come upon Sylvan Lake, which is part of Custer State Park. This is a great area for a picnic or hiking. Proceed to the Needles Highway, which curves and winds through 14 miles of magnificent rock formations called “needles”. One of the most prominent is the Needles Eye reaching 30-40 feet in the air with a three-foot wide slit. This 70 miles route is called the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway and includes the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road.
At Legion Lake turn left onto Highway 16A which will turn into the Iron Mountain Road. This will take you over pigtail bridges and through rock tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore. Take in the beautiful and majestic sight of Mt Rushmore where the four presidents are carved out of solid granite. Your American pride will swell as you explore the extensive grounds, interactive learning centers, guided and self-guided tours, restaurants and gift shops.
Calling all cowboys and cowgirls! The supper bell rings loud at 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Hays Chuckwagon Dinner and Show. Bring your appetites for the best chuckwagon dinner in the west. It’s all served on homemade tin plates with drinks poured into tin cups. Be careful, the coffee is hot!
The Fort Hays Wranglers take the stage to entertain you with the Black Hills most popular western music variety show! You will have a hand clappin’, toe tappin’, foot stompin’, belly shakin’ Laughter of a great time! Family fun for everyone! Bring your camera and take some pictures.
Ready to take a walk on the wild side? Your next stop, Bear Country USA, is truly fun for all ages. Only minutes away and located in the rolling foothills of the Black Hills, this drive-through park features North American wildlife roaming free in their natural habitats. Shop, dine, and learn at the visitor’s center. The baby bears at Babyland will have you wrapped around their little paws’ as you enjoy staff-led demonstrations and informative programs.
Just up the road you’ll encounter Reptile Gardens, a site that maintains the largest collection of reptiles in the world. Featuring an impressive walk-through terrarium and four shows that rotate throughout the day, Reptile Gardens is sure to please.
Next is the Cosmos Mystery Area, a natural phenomenon that is intriguing and mind boggling. From people changing heights on level platforms to water flowing uphill. Cosmos is sure to amaze and astonish the mind!
Take in the nightly lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore. This famous lighting ceremony is an educational and impressive experience. The highlight of the evening is a veteran’s tribute and the 20-minute informational program where the four faces are slowly exposed to light until all four are fully illuminated. It’s a good idea to go early and bring a jacket.
Continue to the town of Keystone and let the adventurer in you come forth for some downhill excitement! We have two adventure parks, the Rushmore Tramway Adventures and Rushmountain Adventure Park and Cave, both sure to please the fun-lovers in your family. Rushmore Tramway Adventures offers 2,000 feet of sensational family fun. Riders control the speed of their individual sleds and small children may ride with adults. Also, don’t miss the outdoor grill on top – featuring an elevated view of Mount Rushmore! Rushmountain features a Mountain Coaster, Wingwalker challenge course, a Zipride, 7-D Ride, gemstone Mining and a stalactite-filled cave.
Conveniently enough, you are in the vicinity of your next destination! Next stop – National Presidential Wax Museum. Located in Keystone, visitors gain insight into our nation’s democracy through life-size, life-like wax figures depicting our country’s most shaping experiences in dramatically historical settings. The Big Thunder Gold Mine is one of the best mining experiences in the Black Hills. Learn about mining in the 1890’s and pan for gold. Wheelchair and stroller accessible!
Take a walk on the boardwalk at Keystone. Don’t forget to take home some salt water taffy and memories to last a lifetime.
Looking for a return trip on the Road to Rushmore? This wonderful family vacation will leave you with lifelong memories and exciting experiences under your belt. The Road to Rushmore is always here for you!