3 Pit Stops to Make on the Road to Mount Rushmore

If you tell people you visited South Dakota without visiting the top attraction in the state, they would think you’re crazy. With over 2.4 million people visiting the attraction from all over the world each year, it’s a no-brainer to make a trip to witness this spectacular memorial in person. But what about the journey up to Mount Rushmore? Make the most of your time in the Black Hills with these three must-see pit stops.

1st Stop: Reptile Gardens – 10 miles from Quality Inn & Suites

Don’t miss your chance to visit the Guinness World Record Holder for the world’s largest reptile zoo, right here in the Black Hills! Reptile Gardens houses some of the world’s deadliest snakes, giant tortoises, amphibians, bugs, and exotic birds. Reptile Gardens also has Maniac, the giant saltwater crocodile, who is 16 feet 2 inches long. Yes you read that correctly, 16 feet long! As you walk around to the numerous exhibits, be sure to check out one of the snake, gator, or bird shows that are scheduled throughout the day, where you will observe a local zookeeper interact with alligators and crocodiles and get a chance to pet a python! And if you need a little breather from all the fun at this first pit stop, take your family for a walk through the botanical gardens which include a living wall, peaceful waterfall, and a playground full of fun.

2nd Stop: Bear Country USA – 2 miles from Reptile Gardens

Next stop on the list is one of the most unique drive-through wildlife parks —Bear Country USA. This family fun adventure is the perfect opportunity to view wildlife animals up close and personal from the comfort of your own vehicle. While driving in the park, you will encounter black bears, mountain lions, elk, buffalo, and other wildlife animals. When you’re ready to get out of the car and stretch your legs you can walk along the wildlife trail to see other small animals, such as a red fox, up close and the famous grizzly bear.

3rd Stop: Cosmos Mystery Area – 8 miles from Bear Country USA

The third pit stop is no doubt the strangest place in the entire Black Hills that not only challenges visitors perceptions but also locals who have visited before. Cosmos Mystery Area goes against the law of physics as water flows uphill and the ability to stand on walls is normal. Experience this mysterious and interactive tour yourself at one of the many tours held throughout the day. This attraction is one that will be memorable for the family and will create hilarious photos.

Final Destination: Mount Rushmore – 7 miles from Cosmos Mystery Area

Last but not least, you’ve finally arrived at Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore has been showcased in movies, books, and numerous maps of the United States. Spend some time viewing the four presidential faces that were carved into a giant granite rock. Along with seeing one of the most popular memorials in the country, be sure to get a selfie with your home state flag as you walk along the The Avenue of Flags, which displays 56 flags in honor of the United States.

Now that you’ve seen Maniac, the giant saltwater crocodile, watched black bears up close and personal, experienced a mystery house in the Black Hills, and visited one of the most iconic memorials, you deserve a night of relaxation and comfort. Be sure to head back to Quality Inn and Suites, where you can relax in our indoor pool and use our free Wi-Fi to upload all the new pictures you took of the day to share with your friends!