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South Dakota Stops on the Way

Closest Airport to Mt. Rushmore is in the City of Presidents

Fly into the Rapid City Regional Airport for the most direct route to the Black Hills, Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore.

Patio scope on the green roof of the Rapid City Regional Airport
A boy looking out of one of the scopes on the airport’s green roofCourtesy Rapid City Regional Airport

Looking for the fastest way to get to five of South Dakota’s stunning national park sites? You’ll want to fly into Rapid City Regional Airport. From there, drive less than an hour to reach the towering presidential heads of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the underground wonderlands of Jewel Cave National Monument and Wind Cave National Park, the awe-inspiring geology of Badlands National Park and the hidden nuclear history at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

With four major airlines serving the airport, there are many ways to get to Rapid City giving you plenty of time to explore the entire region. Year-round, nonstop flights are available from six major cities along with a number of other locations added for the summer. Be sure to book your flights at least three months in advance, and your rental car, available in the terminal from one of six major companies, closer to six months in advance to ensure you get a reservation.

Grab some food and drink inside and sit outside on the patio at Rapid City Regional Airport
Grab some food inside then sit outside on the airport’s patioCourtesy Rapid City Regional Airport

While your main destination may be the national parks, make sure your travel plans include spending a few days in Rapid City itself.

“No one should stay for just one day,” remarks Julie Jensen, president of Visit Rapid City.

Caught an early flight and are starving? Head to Tally’s Silver Spoon at 530 6 Street, which serves breakfast until 2 p.m. Make sure to order the hash browns which Jensen dubs “the crispiest, yummiest ever.”

Dinosaur park in Rapid City, S.D.
A child runs up the stairs to her favorite dinosaur at Rapid City’s free Dinosaur Park. Photo by Jacob Moon courtesy of Rapid City Regional Airport
A dinosaur exhibit at Rapid City's Journey Museum
A dinosaur exhibit at Rapid City’s Journey Museum. Photo: Courtesy Journey Museum and Learning Center/Rapid City Regional Airport
Main Street Square Fountains in Rapid City
Kids play at the Main Street Square fountains in Rapid City. Photo: Courtesy Rapid City Regional Airport
Prairie Edge Trading Co. and Galleries in Rapid City, S.D.
Browse, shop and learn at the Prairie Edge Trading Co. and Galleries in Rapid City. Photo: Courtesy Rapid City Regional Airport
Rapid City Regional Airport Gift Shop
Waiting for a flight? Shop for souvenirs at the airport gift shop. Photo: Courtesy Rapid City Regional Airport

After you’ve fueled up, head to the City of Presidents Information Center at 631 Main Street to get a brochure marking the location of 42 bronze statues of our nation’s leaders scattered on street corners throughout town. The statue of Barack Obama was unveiled on July 13, 2019, at the Elks Theatre before finding its final home on the corner of St. Joseph and 5 streets.

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For more information, visit www.rapairport.com