Mount Rushmore Bound!

Our RV Trip to Mount Rushmore from Southern California was one of the most amazing trips we’ve been on.  We drove from Southern California to the Blue Bell Campground in Custer State Park in South Dakota.  Please follow along below with maps, information on where we stayed and our photo galleries.

Day One – Southern California to Beaver Utah – 509 miles, 8 hours

We left Southern California early in the morning heading to the KOA in Beaver Utah. This leg of the trip would take us about 8 hours. We had booked one night at the KOA which is located right off the freeway.

We were driving north on the 15 freeway, almost to the Arizona border and it looked like the freeway was ending .. or curving … I couldn’t see what was coming up. Well, you enter the most beautiful area – the Virgin River Gorge. Make sure to have your camera ready! I took some pictures and then a movie on the way home, but it didn’t turn out very well …. so take some pictures!!

Beaver – Arriving and staying at the KOA was really easy. We got set up quickly and headed to the pool. We lucked out as the pool closes after Labor Day and we were there a few days before.

Day Two – Beaver, Utah to Cheyenne, Wyoming – 634 miles, About 10 hours

Day two of traveling was very long. The longest part was the leg from Provo to Cheyenne because the 80 through Wyoming is b – o – r – i – n – g … Boring!! Lots of flat land, lots of fences (to stop snow), lots of nothing.

Driving down the freeway, we were going through Laramie .. almost to Cheyenne … and we saw the Abraham Lincoln Monument. This was originally at Sherman’s Summit, the highest point along the old Coast-to-Coast Lincoln Highway.

Beaver – Arriving and staying at the KOA was really easy. We got set up quickly and headed to the pool. We lucked out as the pool closes after Labor Day and we were there a few days before.

Day Three – Cheyenne, Wyoming to Blue Bell Campground, Custer State Park, South Dakota – About 5 hours

We made it to Cheyenne and started mapping out our last day of traveling. I had us going up the 87 and over the 26, but instead we went up the 213 to the 85 to the 18 to stop in Hot Springs for gas and groceries.

Going up the 213 was a bit quiet .. way out in the country … something us Southern Californian’s don’t see much .. very beautiful!

I was so excited to see the Black Hills and the “Mt. Rushmore – 50 miles” sign .. we were almost there!

We saw our first Buffalo sitting in the grass next to the highway. I was really excited! I couldn’t wait to see the buffalo. Not too long later seeing the buffalo we arrived at Blue Bell Campground – Custer State Park! We made it!!

Just a note – there is electric in some spots, but no water. Bring a long hose as you have to park near a faucet and you don’t want your hose too short! And there is no dump station.

Day Four – First Day in the park – Buffalo sightings, tunnels, Mount Rushmore…

We drove through Horse Camp and out North Lame Johnny Road. We saw a large buffalo near the road (video at bottom of page) and didn’t see much else on the “inner” road except a few Prairie Dogs and Pronghorns.

Driving north on Wildlife Loop Road is where we came upon a big herd of buffalo and some even ran across the street in front of us! (see videos).

We drove on Iron Mountain Road through the tunnels – very cool! Since it was the first week of September and all kids were back in school, we had little traffic!

Check out my tunnel videos – at the bottom of this page.

Before we got to Mount Rushmore we pulled over at a view point and I would recommend doing this as you get some good views!

We arrived at Mount Rushmore! I was so excited! So excited that I asked a man to take our picture and I dropped my camera, lens out, lens down … oh no! So .. we had to head to Rapid City, found a Walmart, and I got a new camera!

Day Five – Needles Highway – Sylvan Lake – Hill City and Crazy Horse

We headed out for the day. We drove out Needles Highway to Sylvan Lake. We just happened upon a buffalo at a little rest stop! So funny to see a buffalo hanging out in such a public place.

Time for more tunnels! They are really cool!! Needles Highway is where you will see the Cathedral Spires, so beautiful! I have a tunnel video (below) of one of these tunnels!

Sylvan Lake is really pretty and we enjoyed walking around the lake and taking pictures.

We then headed to Hill City for lunch. We ate at the Bumpin Buffalo. It was really good. There are a few shops to stop, browse, and pick up some souvenirs.

We then made our way to Crazy Horse. This is a must see in my book! It is amazing!

We had passed an antique store on the way to Crazy Horse, so back tracked a bit to check out the store. Funny … donkey …. see the pics!

We stopped off at Mount Coolidge Lookout on the way back to Blue Bell Campground. I’m scared of heights, so the narrow winding road wasn’t the best for me .. but there are great views from the top!

When we got back to our campsite we saw a couple of buffalo in our campground! Wow! Well … they made their way right by us!!! So exciting!

Day Six – Heading to Deadwood and some Antique Shopping

We headed to Deadwood. You can gamble in this town, but we didn’t, we just window shopped and had lunch at Wild Bill’s Bar and Steakhouse. The steak salad was recommended and it didn’t disappoint. The Antique Emporium is worth a look!

That evening we had some more visitors!!

Day Seven – Woke up to Buffalo in the park, backroads, antique shopping and lunch, and Wildlife Loop.

We woke up to buffalo in our campground … well right in our campsite! One just layed down and stayed a while! We cooked breakfast outside and enjoyed the incredible buffalo view!

We headed out for the day and drove some roads we hadn’t taken yet and stopped at “Wild Bill’s Antique Mall and Rock Shop”. Worth the stop! We ended up in Keystone and had lunch at the Grizzly Creek – good burgers!

We drove south on Wildlife Loop Road and we got to see the burros!

We did see a Pronghorn and a herd of buffalo a short distance off.

Day Eight – On our way home – Mt. Rushmore to Grand Junction KOA, CO – appx 11-12 hours

We drove through Colorado on the way home and it is beautiful. We drove through the Eisenhower tunnel which carries Interstate 70 under the Continental Divide.

This was a pretty drive, but long and my husband definately deserved that ice cold Bud Light when we arrived in Grand Junction ….. and me too!

Day Nine – Heading Home – Grand Junction CO to Las Vegas NV, 8 hours

Vegas, here we come!! We drove through beautiful Utah stopping at Eagle Canyon view area – worth the stop!

We stayed the night at the KOA at Circus Circus in Las Vegas. I opted for a spot near the front and by the pool. I had read about break-ins of RV’s and didn’t like the idea of being back by one of the outer walls. Not much to say about this KOA except most people don’t sit around the campground .. they must go see the town! We were tired and stayed at our RV and BBQ’d our dinner .. people must of thought we were crazy!

Day Ten – Heading Home – Las Vegas to Home – appx. 4 hours or so …

Heading home … this was a fantastic trip!! I would do it again for sure!!

Check out my YouTube Videos!

Questions? Contact me!