Hi there!

 

So you want to go to Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Yellowstone National Park!

 

driving from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park road trip stops. what to see on the way from mount rushmore to yellowstone national park. road trip america

 

In September and October 2021, I did a road trip from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone.

It took me 7 days to drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone. That is one way.

No, it doesn’t have to take you 7 days to drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone!

 

How long is the drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park?

Driving directly, it might take around 8 hours of driving time from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone. Although this will depend on exactly where in Yellowstone is your first destination, since Yellowstone is big!

 

Map of driving route from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park road trip. Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone. south dakota to wyoming road trip.
Explore the map.

 

So, for many people, it would even be doable to drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone in one day!

But of course, there are many different ways you can do this drive depending on your time and interests!

Below will show you one driving route to start to give you some ideas… the way I did it!

 

Download offline maps before you go!

It’s quite possible that you will have minimal data in some places as you are driving in South Dakota and Wyoming.

It will be best to download offline google maps for the Mount Rushmore area of South Dakota and the Yellowstone area of Wyoming, and everything in between before you go!

If you’ll be doing some day hikes in Wyoming, see the best apps for hiking in Wyoming!

 
More below for ideas on driving from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone!

 

 

 
Side note!
Plan more of your trip to Yellowstone and beyond:


I have a lot of 30-90 second Yellowstone videos. A few of them might be on this page. If you can't see the video directly above, it might be because you have an ad blocker. Save the Yellowstone video playlist to watch on youtube later!

You can have a perfect one day in Yellowstone driving from the west entrance and following the road down south... or entering from the south entrance and following the road up north aka driving from Grand Teton to Yellowstone!

There are a lot of videos below. If you can’t see them, it may be because you have an ad blocker. You can see the South Dakota video playlist and Yellowstone video playlist on youtube.

 

 

Now…

What is there to see between Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone?

driving from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park road trip stops. what to see on the way from mount rushmore to yellowstone national park. road trip america

Map of driving route from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park road trip. Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone. south dakota to wyoming road trip. mount rushmore to grand teton to yellowstone.
Explore the map. Play around with this map by adding and removing destinations to see how much of a detour (aka how much extra driving time) each stop requires! If it’s showing a weird route looping through Idaho to get between Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone, it’s probably because you’re looking at it when there’s a road closure! (Like might be the case out-of-season.)

 

 

1. Mount Rushmore National Memorial

On a perfect road trip, you would start your drive along Iron Mountain Road just to the (south)east of Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (map)

This way you drive through the Iron Mountain Road tunnels that frame the Mount Rushmore president faces off in the distance for a tunnel view of Mount Rushmore!

 

 

And then you will drive into Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

You can actually see the Mount Rushmore presidents from the road while you’re driving, but to get even closer to the presidents, you’ll want to go to the Mount Rushmore parking lot for $10 a car.

Then you can walk the Avenue of Flags and Presidential Trail to get a closer look at the presidents than you would from the car.

 

 

Then, after you’ve gotten your fill of Mount Rushmore presidents, you will be driving west out of Mount Rushmore to get to Wyoming.

Be on the lookout for the George Washington face as you are driving for one last look at a Mount Rushmore president!

 

 

And then you’ll really be on your way to leave Mount Rushmore behind.

You’ll be driving through Black Hills National Forest.

If you are looking for a picnic spot, you will pass by the Breezy Point picnic area in Black Hills National Forest shortly after leaving Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

 

 

See more about planning your drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone: Things to do in Mount Rushmore National Memorial

 

 

Day trips from Mount Rushmore area

If you will be staying in the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore area for a few days before you start driving to Yellowstone National Park, then here are some possible half day or day trips from the Mount Rushmore area:

 

 

For places to stay in the Black Hills, you can also stay in South Dakota state park camping cabins.

 

 

 

2. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

Driving directions: Mount Rushmore to Savoy SD to Spearfish SD

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: spearfish canyon, black hills. road trip out america

 

There are 2 main scenic routes that you can take to get from Mount Rushmore to Devils Tower.

On this particular road trip from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone that started in September, I chose to drive through Spearfish Canyon. (On a previous trip to South Dakota in August I had driven the alternate road, while I had yet to drive Spearfish Canyon!) 

The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is one of the popular scenic drives in South Dakota.

For reference on a map, you can think of the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway as being from Savoy SD to Spearfish SD. Savoy is to the south, Spearfish is to the north.

So if you’re coming from Mount Rushmore, you can do the drive from south (Savoy) to north (Spearfish). (map)

Once you are in Savoy, you may also want to make a little detour to drive Roughlock Falls Road.

 

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: spearfish canyon, black hills. road trip america

 

This is another nice scenic drive. Along Roughlock Falls Road, you can also access a nature trail that will take you to some waterfalls and a stream.

You may also be interested in hiking to Spearfish Falls. (Although parking is not very good for that. It will be best to park at the first trailhead parking lot you come across on Roughlock Falls Road, and then walk back to the Spearfish Falls trailhead.)

 

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: spearfish canyon, black hills. road trip america

 

The Spearfish Canyon drive can be just about the drive, or there are small pullover areas as you are driving along for you to stop off at.

 

 

See more options on your driving route from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone: Driving from Mount Rushmore to Devils Tower

 

 

3. Devils Tower National Monument

Driving directions: Spearfish SD to Devils Tower National Monument

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: devils tower national monument. road trip america

 

So your next major stop can be Devils Tower National Monument!

Devils Tower is famous for its iconic towering rock formation.

 

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: devils tower national monument. road trip america

 

 

Many people make it a day trip to Devils Tower from South Dakota, and it can also be a perfect stop to make when driving from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone.

If you only want to dedicate 1-2 hours to Devils Tower, that’s completely reasonable. There are some quick things to do at Devils Tower.

There is also the Devils Tower campground if you want to spend an overnight here.

 

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What campgrounds are there between mount rushmore and yellowstone: devils tower national monument. national park camping road trip america

 

And if you are at Devils Tower at night, you might see rock climbers lighting up Devils Tower!

 

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: devils tower national monument. road trip america

 

See more about planning your drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone:

 

 

4. Cloud Peak Skyway

Driving directions: Buffalo WY to Tensleep WY

If you’re driving from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone, the Cloud Peak Skyway is said to be the scenic route, and it’s also said to be the route with the least grade. You’ll do this drive after you pass Devils Tower.

The Cloud Peak Skyway is a drive from Buffalo WY to Tensleep WY, and it will take you through Bighorn National Forest.

The highest point you will get by driving the Cloud Peak Skyway is 9,666 feet as you are driving the Powder River Pass.

Driving from Buffalo to Tensleep without stops will take you less than 1.5 hours.

You can also take it even more slowly along the Cloud Peak Skyway by spending the night in Bighorn National Forest if you can manage to book a Wyoming national forest cabin!

 

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: bighorn national forest cabin, wyoming. road trip america

 

There are chain hotels in Buffalo WY.

If you’re up for a solid day hike in Wyoming in Bighorn National Forest, then the road to the West Tensleep trailhead is off of the Cloud Peak Skyway.

 

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: bighorn national forest, hiking from west tensleep trailhead. road trip out america

 

See more about planning your drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone:

 

 

Mount Rushmore to Grand Teton to Yellowstone

From Mount Rushmore, you can go directly to Yellowstone.

Or, you can first go to Grand Teton National Park, and then go to Yellowstone National Park!

Grand Teton and Yellowstone are connected.

Going to Grand Teton first before Yellowstone is a detour when you’re doing a Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone drive.

Whether or not you want to go to Yellowstone or Grand Teton first will depend on where you’re going after them.

 

 

5. Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway

Driving directions: Thermopolis WY to Shoshoni WY

mount rushmore to yellowstone drive. What is there to see between mount rushmore and yellowstone: wind river canyon scenic byway. road trip out america

 

So if you will be going from Mount Rushmore to Grand Teton to Yellowstone, and you will be driving the Cloud Peak Skyway, then you will next naturally end up on the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway.

Yes, this is a scenic drive along a river through a canyon!

 

 

6. Grand Teton National Park

Since you are so near if you are going to Yellowstone, you really shouldn’t miss Grand Teton National Park!

If you’re short on time, even a drive through the park can be worth it.

The best road to drive if you are truly short on time is Teton Park Road.

Along the way you will also pass by the turn-off for Jenny Lake Scenic Drive.

 

 

 

If you have more time, then you will want to do the whole 42-mile Grand Teton Scenic Loop Drive. (Teton Park Road is a part of it.)

 

 

And if you have even more time… or instead of the rest of the scenic loop… you can do a short hike with mountain views! (For example, hike to Taggart Lake from the Taggart Lake trailhead.)

For Grand Teton National Park, the most popular gateway town is Jackson WY or Jackson Hole.

 

See more about planning your drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone:

 

 

7. Yellowstone National Park

And you’ve made it to Yellowstone National Park!!!

What makes Yellowstone National Park very special is the Yellowstone supervolcano!

Because of the Yellowstone supervolcano, there are tons of thermal features to see all over Yellowstone National Park.

So you must be sure to see geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles (steam vents)! You do this by visiting the many thermal basins that are in the park.

THE best things to do in Yellowstone National Park are to see the Old Faithful geyser eruption (see from ground level and the geyser overlook) and to see the Grand Prismatic Spring (see from ground level and the spring overlook).

 

 

The West Thumb Geyser Basin is another one of the great things to do in Yellowstone, as you get to see thermal features with the backdrop of Yellowstone Lake.

 

 

And hopefully you will get to see a bunch of smaller geyser eruptions, like the Clepsydra Geyser!

 

 

See more about planning your drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone:

 

 

And that’s one way you can drive from Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone!

 

More for your Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone road trip planning:

 

And, after Yellowstone, maybe you want to keep heading west to Idaho and Craters of the Moon National Monument! And then you can make the return trip back east along southern Wyoming and drive through Medicine Bow National Forest and the Snowy Range Scenic Byway! And then onwards to the Toadstool Geologic Park of Oglala National Grassland to see the Nebraska Badlands!

 

 

Or, after Yellowstone maybe you want to loop back around and make the return trip from Yellowstone to the east with a detour through North Dakota to go to another national park! (map) In which case…

 

 

HAPPY DRIVING FROM MOUNT RUSHMORE TO YELLOWSTONE!