Custer State Park
The Wildlife Loop
Iron Mountain Road
Bus Tour Itinerary
||About 8 hours with 3 hours of
|Best Time To Go:
||Start early in the day
||Mt. Rushmore charges $10 for a
parking pass good for the calendar year in which
it is issued. Custer State Park entrance fee is
$15 and good for seven days. Crazy Horse entrance
fee is $22 per car. Additional fees listed on
itinerary follows a route similar to that used by
various one-day bus tours through the hills.
Start in Keystone about
8 a.m. Drive up
to the visitor center at Mt Rushmore via Highway
244. Spend at least an
hour looking at the monument and the Mt. Rushmore
then backtrack down
the mountain to the junction of US Highway 16A.
(Iron Mountain Road).
Follow 16A up through
Bridges and the Iron Mountain Tunnels (three of
them) to the top of
Iron Mountain. Be sure to stop at each tunnel and
look back at the way
Mt. Rushmore is framed. At the top of Iron
Mountain, stop at the scenic
park at the top. Follow the paved trail west to a
very nice viewing
platform the overlooks Mt. Rushmore. Follow 16A
into Custer State Park.
(You will have to pay an entry fee.)
Once in the park, turn
left off of 16A
to take the Wildlife Loop Road. You should be able
to see plenty of
buffalo, antelope, prairie dogs and wild donkeys.
Usually the buffalo
roam near the Wildlife Loop road and often stop
traffic, so be prepared
to stop and allow plenty of time for this 17-mile
drive. When you
emerge from the Wildlife Loop Road, take Highway
87 north. If steep
roads do not bother you, take the one-mile side
trip up to the Mt.
Coolidge Lookout. The road is gravel. From the
summit you can see both
Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, each is
17 miles away from
your vantage point. Continue on Highway 87 as it
becomes the Needles
Highway. This will take you up past the Cathedral
Devil,s Tower and into the Needles. There will be
overlooks along the way, some tunnels and stopping
you will come to Sylvan Lake, an ideal spot for a
swim or a picnic or a
lazy afternoon rest.
If you are tired of
being in a car, you
can walk along several paths near the lake. Just
after Sylvan Lake turn
north on Highway 89 and follow it down the
mountain toward US16/US385.
Take US385 south to Crazy Horse Memorial. It is
about five miles south
of the junction.
If you choose to go into
Horse Memorial, you will need to pay an entrance
fee and be prepared to
stay awhile because of the many exhibits in the
museum. If you just
want to be able to say you've seen it, there is no
need to go inside,
the view from the highway is almost as good as the
view from inside.
After visiting the memorial, follow US 385 north
again to Highway 244,
which you can follow back to Keystone. This
itinerary should get you
back to Keystone in the mid to late afternoon. You
can then have a bit
of a rest, dinner, and then at sundown head up to
Mt. Rushmore again
for the evening lighting ceremony.