Best Hotels Near Mount Rushmore: 5 Excellent Black Hills Regions

by Mark and Kristen Morgan
Where are those morgans at the south dakota sign best hotels near mount rushmore keystone hill city rapid city custer black hills road trip where to stay

Mount Rushmore is a must-visit bucket list attraction in South Dakota, but where are the best places to stay nearby? We’ve rounded up the top rated hotels in South Dakota’s stunning Black Hills to help you plan your visit to the Mount Rushmore area.

South Dakota’s beautiful Black Hills National Forest is a hugely underrated US road trip destination. It also happens to be one of our favorites and we’ve now visited on two separate occasions, in April and October.

Throughout both our visits we have gained a deeper understanding about best locations and benefits to staying in each of Keystone, Custer, Hill City, Rapid City and the northern areas in the Black Hills.

We’re going to show you the top rated lodging and accommodation options in each, plus explain why it’s a good idea to stay there.

So, let’s get right into finding you the best hotels near Mount Rushmore National Memorial!

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Visiting The Iconic Sculpture

Mount Rushmore is one of the most famous landmarks in the world and simply can’t be missed on a visit to South Dakota.

Based on two personal visits, we think 3 hours is easily enough time to arrive, explore, hike the presidential trail and learn about its construction.

However, if you visit in Summer, be sure to check out the light show at night from the newly renovated amphitheater.

  • The purpose of this guide is to help you plan your visit to Mount Rushmore, therefore we will only show you the top rated hotels by previous guests in each popular area.
  • You will find a rating after each hotel name as per Booking.com, which we use to book all hotels when traveling.

Our Mt Rushmore resources to help with planning:

Hotels near mount rushmore are great idea so you can wake up early to be inside the memorial before sunrise with stunning purple sky

Keystone – Best Hotels Near Mount Rushmore

When you look at a map of the Black Hills and find Mt Rushmore, you immediately think Keystone must be the best place to stay.

We did too, but we were both right and wrong.

Keystone is the ‘traditional’ place to stay for visiting Mt Rushmore, providing easy access to the memorial and a small selection of eateries.

But the season is surprisingly short, and once the tourism window closes, there’s not much going on in town.

Pros: 

  • There are plenty of hotel options and prices are fair.
  • It is certainly the most central location among the best things to do in the region and has excellent access to Mount Rushmore.
  • If you plan to visit Badlands, Custer, Sylvan Lake etc, Keystone is perfectly located for day tripping out each day and back.
  • Keystone is just 2.5 miles from Mount Rushmore. If you plan to visit the memorial for sunrise (which we highly recommend for various reasons), it is just a 6 minute drive.

Cons:

  • Amenities are surprisingly limited in Keystone.
  • Dining options are sparse and very similar.
  • Plan ahead if visiting outside of Summer when most of the small town’s restaurants and stores shut up shop for the off-season. Check to see if things are open in Keystone before booking.
Top Rated Hotels and Lodging In Keystone:
  1. Under Canvas – Guest Rating 9.2
  2. Bar and S Lodge – Guest rating 9.0
  3. Battle Creek Lodge – Guest rating 8.7
  4. Roosevelt Inn – Guest rating 8.5
  5. Holiday Inn Express – Guest rating 8.4
  6. Powder House Lodge – Guest rating 8.4
Lincoln presidential face carved into granite in south dakota

Custer – Best Hotels Near Mount Rushmore

Custer is much larger than Keystone and offers a far greater selection of dining options. Keystone is a resort, whereas Custer is a small town.

Mount Rushmore is a 20 mile drive from Custer, which would take around 30 minutes. Bearing in mind you will only visit Mt Rushmore once or twice at the most, Custer could be a better overall option to set up base.

Pros: 

  • Higher quality selection of hotels near Mount Rushmore.
  • Better location if you plan to visit Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse, Sylvan Lake, Needles Highway and Custer wildlife loop.
  • Plenty of places to eat great food along Mt Rushmore road.

Cons:

  • Further away from Badlands National Park.
  • Further from Rapid City which is where you will likely fly into and hire a car.
  • 30 minutes drive to Mt Rushmore is obviously much longer than 6 minutes from Keystone.
Top Rated Hotels and Lodging in Custer:
  1. EO Bungalows – Guest Rating 9.4
  2. Bavarian Inn – Guest rating 9.2
  3. Rocket Motel – Guest rating 9.2
  4. Holiday Inn Express – Guest rating 8.9
  5. Comfort Inn – Guest rating 8.8
  6. Rock Crest Lodge – Guest rating 8.6
  7. Chalet Motel – Guest rating 8.6
Mt Rushmore amphitheater seating empty on a cold snowy cloudy day

Hill City – Best Hotels Near Mount Rushmore

The first time we visited South Dakota’s Black Hills we didn’t drive through or realize Hill City was an option. But the second time we did drive through and it is definitely a very good option.

Mount Rushmore is only 12 miles from Hill City for a total of around 20 minutes drive time. It is slightly larger and more residential than Keystone, offering a good selection of dining but not as high quality as Custer.

Pros: 

  • Again, this area has a range of highly rated hotel options.
  • Better location if you plan to visit the northern parts of South Dakota’s Black Hills and Badlands, as well as excellent access to Needles Highway and Sylvan Lake.

Cons:

  • Further away from Wind Cave and Custer State Park.
  • Not as good a selection of dining as Custer or Rapid City.
Top Rated Hotels and Lodging in Hill City:
  1. Harney Peak Inn – Guest Rating 9.3
  2. Comfort Inn – Guest rating 9.2
  3. Black Elk Resort – Guest rating 9.1
  4. Mountain View Lodge – Guest rating 9.0
  5. Quality Inn – Guest rating 9.0
  6. Holiday Inn – Guest rating 8.7
  7. Lodge at Palmer Gulch – Guest rating 8.6
Four US presidents carved into a rock in south Dakota

Rapid City – Best Hotels Near Mount Rushmore

Rapid City is the major tourist hub for western South Dakota’s stunning natural landscapes. Most visitors to Mt Rushmore, the Black Hills and Badlands National Park will fly into Rapid City airport and hire a car at the regional airport.

There are no hotels at Rapid City regional airport but there are a wide range of highly rated hotels in and around Rapid City itself.

Rapid City is the perfect centrally located home base if you want to stay in a very built up area with plenty of excellent dining options. It is easy to plan day trips into Badlands National Park, Mt Rushmore, Custer / Wind Cave and even Devils Tower from Rapid City.

You might be surprised to learn that Mount Rushmore is just 23 miles from downtown Rapid City. Quicker roads allow you to reach the memorial in just 30 minutes, the same as Custer but on opposite sides of Mt Rushmore.

Pros: 

  • Rapid City is located right on I-90 which means you can avoid some of the Black Hills awesome but slow and winding roads.
  • Far superior dining options and range of highly rated hotels.
  • Much closer to Rapid City regional airport with direct transport links.
  • Excellent location if you plan to spend one or two days at Badlands National Park, plus visit Devils Tower, Deadwood and Spearfish Canyon.

Cons:

  • Much further away from Wind Cave, Jewel Cave and Custer State Park.
  • Hotels tend to be more expensive in Rapid City.
  • Not actually inside Black Hills National Forest.
Top Rated Hotels and Lodging in Rapid City:
  1. Best Western Plus – Guest Rating 9.2
  2. Holiday Inn Express – Guest rating 9.1
  3. Staybridge Suites – Guest rating 9.0
  4. Residence Inn – Guest rating 9.0
  5. My Place Hotel – Guest rating 8.9
  6. Comfort Suites – Guest rating 8.8
  7. Sleep Inn & Suites – Guest rating 8.8
Best places to stay near mount rushmore hotels in keystone and black hills mt rushmore sculpture carved into rock with clouds full of snow

Northern Black Hills – Best Hotels Near Mount Rushmore

When planning your visit to Mount Rushmore, be sure to consider spending a day or two in the northern areas if you have time and can fit it into your itinerary.

Deadwood is a nice easy 1-2 hour visit to see an Old West town and Devils Tower is an incredibly remarkable National Monument that we highly recommend.

But if you can only have enough time to see one place, make it the scenic drive through Spearfish Canyon. You will find picturesque waterfalls and fun hikes, plus the canyon itself is an awesome spectacle.

There are a number of highly rated hotels dotted around Deadwood, Spearfish and Lead. This area is roughly 50 miles and 1 hour drive from Mount Rushmore.

Pros: 

  • This area is far less touristy and less crowded.
  • Spearfish Canyon is one of the most underrated things to do in Black Hills.
  • Spearfish has a wide range of cuisines available for dining.
  • Hotels are generally good value.

Cons:

  • Much further to drive to all of Mt Rushmore, Custer and Badlands.
Top Rated Hotels and Lodging in Northern Black Hills:
  1. Town Hall Inn – Guest Rating 9.3 (Lead, SD)
  2. Cedar Wood Inn – Guest rating 9.2 (Deadwood, SD)
  3. SpringHill Suites – Guest rating 8.9 (Deadwood, SD)
  4. Spearfish Canyon Lodge – Guest rating 8.8 (Spearfish, SD)
  5. Comfort Inn – Guest rating 8.7 (Deadwood, SD)
  6. Blackstone Lodge – Guest rating 8.6 (Lead, SD)

Top Travel Tips

  • Choose your ideal location first based around activities and attractions, then pick the best hotel for your budget in that area.
  • Keystone is very centrally located and the obvious choice, but it does lack the amenities of Custer or Rapid City.
  • All 5 areas are a great choice in their own way, it depends on your preferences.
  • Hikers should choose Custer, it is closer to Black Elk Peak, Sunday Gulch and Cathedral Spires than the other places on this list.
  • Sunrise at Mount Rushmore is amazing, the sun beautifully illuminates each of the four former presidents faces and you could have the entire memorial to yourself.
More From South Dakota’s Black Hills

Use our comprehensive South Dakota Road Trip planner to create your entire itinerary when visiting the beautiful Black Hills region.

Best Places To Stay In …

We hope this guide to the best hotels near Mount Rushmore helps you plan your trip to the beautiful Black Hills!

Have you been to Mount Rushmore? Where did you stay and how was your experience? 

Please let us know if you have any questions or need any help planning your visit.

-Happy Travels-

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