The Best Hotels Near Mount Rushmore (5 Different Areas)


Mark and Kristen from Where Are Those Morgans underneath the South Dakota welcome sign staying at the best places and hotels near Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills

Keystone, Hill City, Custer, Rapid City and the northern reaches of South Dakota’s Black Hills are the 5 major areas you should consider booking a hotel for your trip to Mount Rushmore. If you plan to visit Mt Rushmore alone, Keystone is the most convenient place to stay. But if you also want to visit various other attractions in the Black Hills, you should take a closer look at the alternatives.

In this guide we show you the best Black Hills hotels and explain everything you need to know about where to stay near Mount Rushmore, based entirely on our own experiences.

Our Black Hills Hotels Experience

Hikers standing at the flagpole marking the summit of Black Elk Peak Trail near Sylvan Lake in South Dakota
Here we are at the summit of Black Elk Peak near Mt Rushmore in the Black Hills

We’ve spent a total of 8 days exploring the top attractions around South Dakota’s Black Hills, split between visits in October 2019 and April 2021. And we’ve stayed at hotels in Keystone, Custer, Hot Springs, Deadwood and Spearfish, so we have a lot of first hand experience in the area. Read more about us.

We like Keystone for conveniently visiting Mount Rushmore but we also like Custer because it has more hotel and restaurant options, as well as a central location within the Black Hills. But the other towns might be a better fit for your itinerary, so let’s get right into your options in order of distance from Mount Rushmore.

Further Reading: What to do at Mount Rushmore

1. Keystone

Mt Rushmore amphitheater seating empty on a cold snowy cloudy day
Lincoln Borglum amphitheater at Mt Rushmore

Keystone is a small resort town located just 2.8 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It’s a little over 5 minutes drive from town to the parking lot, which makes Keystone by far the most convenient place to stay near Mt Rushmore.

You’ll find a good selection of cheap and mid range hotel chains offering free breakfast in Keystone. There’s also a popular luxury glamping option a 10 minute drive south of town called Under Canvas.

So far we’ve stayed at Comfort Inn and Suites and K Bar S Lodge. Comfort Inn was a great budget option but K Bar S Lodge was a wonderful experience, and it’s our top recommendation if you decide to stay in Keystone.

The major downside is that Keystone a tourist town through and through. When the Black Hills is busy between May and September you’ll find the town buzzing with people. But in the off season the entire town effectively closes down, so you’d have very few dining options.


  • Several good hotel options at affordable price points
  • Closest place to stay near Mount Rushmore
  • Quick access to the memorial for sunrise photography
  • Centrally located between Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Sylvan Lake and Rapid City
  • Easy access to Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway


  • Amenities are surprisingly limited
  • Dining options are sparse and very similar
  • The town closes down out of season
  • Longer drive to Spearfish and Deadwood
  • Further from Wind Cave and Jewel Cave

Best Hotels In Keystone


Mid Range:


Further Reading: Complete guide to the best Keystone SD hotels

2. Hill City

Hiker in winter coat walking on a snowy trail next to a lake and trees
Kristen walking around Sylvan Lake on a snowy day in April

Hill City is a small city located just 12 miles from Mount Rushmore, which would take you around 20 minutes to drive on easy roads. It’s larger, more residential, less resort-like and it also has a good range of highly rated hotels, so we think Hill City is a great alternative to Keystone.

You’ll find a slightly better selection of dining in Hill City when compared to Keystone, but we think Custer has the most quality places to eat in the central Black Hills area.

One major benefit to staying in Hill City is ease of access to most of the best things to do near Mount Rushmore without having to drive the slower scenic roads.


  • Good choice of highly rated hotels close to Mt Rushmore
  • Closer to Spearfish, Deadwood and the northern reaches of the Black Hills
  • Easy access to Needles Highway, Sylvan Lake, Black Elk Peak and Crazy Horse
  • Ride the 1880 steam train right out of Hill City


  • Food options not as extensive as Custer or Rapid City
  • Much smaller city than other options

Best Hotels In Hill City


Mid Range:


3. Custer

Lincoln presidential face carved into granite in south dakota
Close up of Lincoln’s head carved into Mt Rushmore

Custer is another small city in the central Black Hills but it’s larger than both Keystone and Hill City, and it also has a greater selection of hotels and dining options. Mount Rushmore is 20 miles from Custer, which will take you around 30 minutes to drive on easy roads.

What we like about staying in Custer is the range of highly rated but cheap motel-style lodgings available. But as huge fans of The Alps in Europe, we couldn’t resist booking the Alpine-themed Bavarian Inn in Custer. It was a fantastic stay slightly to the north of town and we’d happily book it again.

We think Custer is one of the best overall options for where to stay in the Black Hills because it has affordable and high quality hotel options, several excellent eateries and a central location close to the best things to do in Custer State Park.


  • Better selection of high quality hotels near Mount Rushmore
  • Lots of highly rated places to eat out
  • Closer to Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse, Sylvan Lake, Needles Highway and Custer State Park wildlife loop.


  • Further from Badlands National Park, Deadwood and Devils Tower
  • Longer drive from Rapid City town and airport
  • 30 minutes to Mt Rushmore from Custer is much longer than 10 minutes from Keystone

Best Hotels In Custer


Mid Range:


Further Reading: Complete guide to the best Custer SD hotels

4. Rapid City

Four US presidents carved into a rock in south Dakota
Stone colored granite before sunlight changes the color and appearance

Rapid City is the major tourist hub in western South Dakota. Many visitors to Mt Rushmore, the Black Hills and Badlands National Park fly into Rapid City and hire a car at the airport.

Mount Rushmore is 23 miles from downtown Rapid City and it only takes 30 minutes to drive between the two, which is the same as Custer. We like Rapid City because it has a wide range of excellent hotels and restaurants, plus it’s close to I-90 for easy access to attractions north of the Black Hills.

You can’t stay at Rapid City airport because there aren’t any hotels. But you can book one of many highly rated cheap or mid range hotels in downtown Rapid City if you’d prefer to stay in a more built up area when you visit Mount Rushmore.


  • Located on I-90 with easy access to Badlands, Deadwood and Devils Tower
  • Closest place to stay near the regional airport for Mt Rushmore
  • Far superior range of dining options and highly rated hotels


  • Much further from Wind Cave, Jewel Cave and Custer State Park wildlife loop
  • Hotels are more expensive on average compared to other areas of the Black Hills
  • Not actually located inside Black Hills National Forest

Best Hotels In Rapid City


Mid Range:

Downtown Rapid City:

Need help planning your Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone road trip?

Our popular 45+ page Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone Guidebook includes a detailed 10 day itinerary with maps, directions and top attractions.

5. Northern Black Hills

Best places to stay near mount rushmore hotels in keystone and black hills mt rushmore sculpture carved into rock with clouds full of snow
Snowmelt running down the sculpture in April

The northern parts of South Dakota’s Black Hills are often overlooked in favor of the more popular areas around Keystone, Sylvan Lake and Custer. But we recommend spending one day of your itinerary in Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood and Devils Tower National Monument.

You can walk around Deadwood in 1-2 hours and Devils Tower will take you no more than 2 hours. But it’s Spearfish Canyon scenic byway that makes it well worth the effort. You’ll find picturesque waterfalls and fun hikes, plus the deep canyon itself is dramatic.

It’s roughly 50 miles from Mount Rushmore to the northern areas of the Black Hills, which will take you around 1 hour and 10 minutes to drive. Deadwood has the most hotels because it’s a touristy casino town, but you can also stay in Lead or Spearfish.

If you’re planning to drive the popular Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone road trip route, you should stay somewhere around Spearfish or Deadwood the night before driving through Wyoming to Yellowstone.


  • Quieter than Keystone or Custer
  • Spearfish Canyon scenic byway is hugely underrated
  • The city of Spearfish has great dining options
  • Hotels here generally have better value for money
  • Very close to Devils Tower National Monument


  • Much further from Mount Rushmore, Custer and Wind Cave
  • Not in the heart of the Black Hills
  • Deadwood is better for adults (not families)

Best Hotels In Northern Black Hills




Further Reading: Complete guide to the best Deadwood SD hotels

Mount Rushmore Hotels Map

Click or touch the map to activate. Zoom in and out, scroll around the map and find the locations of each hotel we’ve covered in this guide.

Map Key:

  • Green – Cheap hotels
  • Orange – Mid range budget hotels
  • Blue – Expensive hotels

In Conclusion

Couple standing next to each other at the Lincoln Borglum amphitheater and Mt Rushmore behind
Here we are at Mount Rushmore on a snowy day in April

You have five excellent but very different options when it comes to choosing where you’ll stay near Mount Rushmore. Keystone, Hill City and Custer are all close to top attractions in the heart of the Black Hills, Rapid City is the major hub and the northern areas of the Black Hills are home to a few hidden gems.

We recommend staying in Keystone if you want to try sunrise photography at Mount Rushmore, or if you plan to attend the evening lighting ceremony because it finishes late and driving around the Black Hills at night isn’t easy.

Otherwise, we think Custer is the best place to stay in the Black Hills all things considered because it has the best balance between cost, location and amenities.

Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone Road Trip Guidebook by Where Are Those Morgans

More From South Dakota

We hope this guide to the best places to stay near Mount Rushmore helps with planning your trip to South Dakota’s Black Hills!

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

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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2 thoughts on “The Best Hotels Near Mount Rushmore (5 Different Areas)”

  1. Dear Mark and Kristen, thank you so much for all the information. It has helped us a lot in planning our trip to SDakota next week. According to all useful information you posted I’ve decided to stay in Rapid City and drive to all the places of interest. Thanks again and many blessings to you and your travel journey.


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