Start in Chicago on this incredible route through some of the nation's most stunning prairies, wide-open skies and gorgeous mountain peaks.
From Chicago head west, stopping at the Akta Lakota Museum to discover northern Plains Indian history. Then head to South Dakota's Badlands National Park. Beyond lies Mount Rushmore in Keystone, S.D., hot springs in Hot Springs, S.D., and two national park sites that give you a rare glimpse into the Earth's underbelly: Wind Cave and Jewel.
Don't miss the charming town of Custer for fun and wildlife viewing at Custer State Park. Then head to the Crazy Horse Memorial, the world's largest monument carving. In Hill City, ride the 1880 Train and in Deadwood see Wild West reenactments. In Belle Fourche, relax under the shade of trees. In Wyoming, Thermopolis offers hot springs and dinosaur digs and the 50 miles east of Yellowstone offer an uncrowded lodging experience. After exploring Yellowstone, head to Billings, Miles City and other southeast Montana sights on your way back to Chicago.
In Chicago, join locals and travelers alike at Millennium Park downtown. A showcase of who's who in architecture, this interactive park is an adult playground. Check out these three architectural gems, Cloud Gate, the kidney-bean-shaped stainless steel sculpture, Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by architect Frank Gehry, and Crown Fountain which features the faces of 1,000 Chicago residents on two 250-foot glass towers.
Central South Dakota
Go Full Circle at the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center
Move clockwise through the museum from pre-European to "Two Worlds Meet" to "Broken Promises" and finally "Continuity and Change."
Alternative Rapid Route: Fly Into Rapid City
For an alternative launch point to your road trip, fly into the Rapid City Regional Airport. It's the most direct route to the Black Hills, Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore. While your main destinations may be the national parks, make sure your travel plans include spending time in Rapid City itself.
Badlands National Park
48 Hours in the Badlands and Black Hills
Hit the best of the South Dakota parks with these top spots including national parks, steam trains, wild bison and a legendary store.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Explore nuclear weapon history near the northeast Pinnacles Entrance to Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
Wind Cave National Park
Mt. Rushmore National Memorial
Constructed from 1927-41, the memorial features the faces of four U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Crazy Horse Memorial
See the world's largest monument carving in progress, the Crazy Horse Memorial.
Black Hills Adventures
Custer is South Dakota's Yellowstone
Basecamp in Custer for incredible access to these 7 legendary Black Hills sites including a park where 1,300 bison roam free.
8 Places Custer Hospitality Makes You Feel Welcome
Stay in a teepee, treehouse, campsite or hotel near Mt. Rushmore and rent an ATV or kayak for your adventure.
Top 6 in South Dakota's Hot Springs Mammoth Country
Hot Springs is home to the world-famous Mammoth Site, a Wild Horse Sanctuary, far-reaching caves, and a watery oases.
Ride the 1880 Train through the Heart of the Hills
All aboard! Enjoy a 2-hour, 20-mile ride aboard an authentic steam train between Hill City and Keystone.
Let Good Times Roll in Deadwood
Listen to live music, walk in the footsteps of Wild West legends, watch re-enactments and try your luck in gaming halls in this town full of wild history.
The Tri-State Museum is near the Geographic Center of the Nation
See silver spoons that traveled on the Mayflower in 1620 and antique saddles at the Tri-State Museum. Then take a selfie at the Geo-Center monument.
Black Hills Rest stops:
The Lodge at Deadwood
The Lodge is one of the newest, most beautiful Deadwood hotels. When you arrive, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the breathtaking panoramic view of the Black Hills and the high plains.
Executive Lodging of the Black Hills in Sturgis & Deadwood
Rustic homes, log cabins, luxury accommodations, a clubhouse with a swimming pool, and everything in between.
Super 8 Belle Fourche
Situated on Route 85, our Super 8 Belle Fourche hotel is just minutes from popular attractions like the Center of the Nation Monument and Tri-State Museum.
Devils Tower National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument
Travelers roaming through the northeastern Wyoming prairie will be treated to a strange and wonderful sight: a striking stone column rising seemingly out of nowhere.
The World’s Largest Mineral Hot Spring is in Thermopolis
It's a small, picturesque town where the elevation is higher than the population. Come soak in the famous mineral hot springs.
Dig This at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center
At one of the best dinosaur museums in the world, locate the prehistoric dinosaurs beneath Thermopolis on a Dig for a Day adventure.
Yellowstone National Park
Enter East Entrance
48 Hours in Yellowstone
Only have 48 hours? Make the most of your time by visiting some of our favorite spots in the park.
GyPSy Guide's Yellowstone Audio Tour App
Download the Yellowstone audio tour app that’s like having a tour guide in your car. GyPSy Guide automatically plays interesting and entertaining commentary as you go.
Watch Wildlife in Yellowstone's Lamar and Hayden Valleys
Yellowstone’s huge, wide valleys make excellent habitat for wildlife. For your best chance of spotting them, point your compass toward the Lamar and Hayden.
Exit Northeast Entrance
Silver Gate Lodging Has the Closest Cabins to Yellowstone
A 1/2 mile from Yellowstone's northeast entrance, this quiet cabin resort is surrounded by snowcapped mountains and wildlife. silvergatelodging.com
Drive the Dramatic Beartooth Highway Northeast of Yellowstone
One of the most breathtaking routes to Yellowstone is the 68-mile stretch of the Beartooth Highway - named a National Scenic Byway’s “All-American Road.”
Top 7 Places to Find Food and Lore in Billings, Montana
Northeast of Yellowstone, find a brewery district, gluten-free pancakes and Old West charm in this city of 110,000.
Lewistown, The Heart of Montana
From big game hunting to fishing, camping, biking, hiking and skiing, take advantage of the outdoor recreation opportunities in the beautiful Judith Basin.
Have an Historic Stay at The Calvert Hotel
This historic building is beautifully remodeled to retain the classic design of the past while adding luxury amenities to provide the utmost in comfort.
Southeast Montana is Cowboy Country
In search of the West before mocha lattes invaded corner cafes? You'll find it in these authentic towns.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
This 3-unit park is known for amazing wildlife (bison and elk), 95 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, water sports, and inspiring a president.