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  1. Default Summer Road Trip from Raleigh to Mt. Rushmore - 2016

    I am a single mom with 2 kids (14 & 10).
    I have always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore in person.
    I would greatly appreciate any ideas, advice, suggestions (routes, neat places to stop) for a summer road trip from Raleigh NC to Mt. Rushmore and back.
    We did a road trip through eight states over 17 days this summer.
    So, we can spend a little over 2 weeks on the road.
    Is this a doable trip over that period of time?
    With only me driving, I do worry about fatigue on my part.
    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default You should be fine.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    If you had 14 days available you would spend half of that time on the road, so that's not too bad at all and it gets better if you have a couple more to add. How you break that driving up will depend on other places you find interesting and how much time you would want to spend driving on any given day. Taking a different route in each direction will mix things up and let you see other areas of the country. At this stage of planning I would suggest you get the maps out and do a little research to see what other places grab your attention. I would involve the Kids in the planning and let them have some input, they will get much more from the trip if they have a vested interest. Around Rushmore there are other places to visit such as Custer State park, Wind Cave NP and Badlands NP which could be visited on the way. Once you have a few more ideas put together a route will start to form and then we can help put it together and offer suggestions but your plan is certainly doable.

  3. #3

    Default Been there, done that, several times

    Howdy neighbor,

    I'm a lifelong Raleigh resident and have traveled to Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas many times, including an out-and-back round trip over a 21 day period just last summer. Here are a few thoughts for your trip planning consideration:

    Yes, 14 days is adequate, even for a solo driver.

    Routing: From Raleigh, you may consider each of two routes from Raleigh to east of St Louis (Mt Vernon, IL). There are also two principal alternatives from near Omaha, NE to the Black Hills. In my opinion, the best route to Mt Vernon IL is I-40 to Nashville, TN, I-24 into IL, I-57 to Mt Vernon. The alternate is I-40/I-40 Business to US 52 in Winston-Salem, thence US 52/Future I-73/74 to I-77 outside of Mt Airy, I-77 to Charleston, WV, and I-64 all the way to Mt Vernon, IL. I favor the I-40 route since it's somewhat flatter and lacks the rough road and tolls along I-77 in WV. Nothing wrong with one route out and the other back. From Mt Vernon, I-64 to and all the way through St Louis to Wentzville, MO west of there, where I-64 ends at I-70. I-70 west to KC, beltway around the northeast side (I-435, I recall), and I-29 up to the southwest corner of Iowa, where the ideal alternates for the remainder diverge. Fastest would be staying on I-29 into SD, thence west on I-90 at Sioux Falls, SD, keeping I-90 all the way to the Black Hills. On the other leg, consider dropping down to the Nebraska Panhandle to Crawford and visiting Fort Robinson State Park. Fort Robinson is a well-restored US Army cavalry post. It features a large brick barracks structure built in the early 1900s and many single-family and duplex officers houses. Both the barracks and the houses are motel units now. From Ft Robinson, you may drop down to Alliance, NE to see Carhenge, a re-creation of Stonehenge only using old cars instead of stones. From Alliance, you may consider the "Sandhills Scenic Journey" along NE-2. NE-2 traverses the Nebraska Sandhills from NW to SE, passing through about 200 miles of unique 300-400' grass covered sand dunes and many small railroad towns. About midway is Mullen, NE, where you and the kids may stop for a half-day of "tanking", a float trip down the Middle Loup River in a 10' diameter galvanized steel livestock watering tank with seats installed inside. The Middle Loup is flatwater but moves fairly quickly and is a fun and relaxing way to see the Sandhills up close. At Grand Island, NE, get on I-80 to Lincoln, then connect to NE-2 again there for a shortcut avoiding Omaha to reach southwest Iowa @ I-29 once again.

    Interesting sights along the way include the dams at Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lakes, near Paducah. A visit to the Gateway Arch in St Louis is always fun (but avoid the temptation to get on I-70 there, instead get back on I-64 to pass through a much less sketchy part of St Louis). There is a replica of the Lewis & Clark Keelboat at Lewis & Clark State Park near Onawa, IA, and it's only about 4 miles off of I-29. A large I-90 rest area near Chamberlin, SD overlooks the Missouri River (dammed up here) and has some good L&C history placards. At Wall, SD is Wall Drug, always worth a stop and a look around. Might as well spend a day on the loop drive through the Badlands NP, as well, as it's right there close to Wall, SD.

    I'd start with the purchase of a Rand McNally Atlas, if you don't already have one. The above will make lots more sense with an atlas at your side.

    Enjoy the planning and the trip!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    A visit to the Gateway Arch in St Louis is always fun
    This may or may not be practical - the museum is closed for construction and tickets to even enter the Arch building, much less go to the top, must be purchased in advance. This will be the case till sometime in 2017.

  5. #5


    Here is an alternate route across Missouri instead of I-70. Stay on I-64 through St Louis as Foy instructed, but continue on up to Hannibal, boyhood home of Mark Twain. Lots to see and do there. Then take Route 36 across to St Joseph and connect with I-29 there. It is divided highway and much less traveled than I-70.

    Along Route 36, or nearby in Marceline, is the boyhood home of Walt Disney. St Joe was the origin of the Pony Express in the 1800's and also is where Bob Ford killed Jesse James in 1882. The house is still there with a bullet hole in the wall. Those are just a few of the things to do along the way.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California

    Default Missouri!

    Hannibal: The historic district has Mark Twain's boyhood home, the home of Becky Thatcher, and some other old homes. Just down the street is the Mark Twain Museum, which includes a big steering wheel from a Mississippi River boat (paddle wheeler). Walk down to the river, too, if you can. It's not a gorgeous cave, but the Mark Twain Cave is the one featured in the book Tom Sawyer: "anyone for the cave?" If it's the heat of summer, the Cave will be a nice respite from the heat and humidity, too. Here is a report from our Hannibal trip, about 4-1/2 years ago. Scroll down to post #46. Pictures were separate back then, but there are links to them.

    Continuing on US-36 from Hannibal, you can take a county road down to Mark Twain Lake, and the Clarence Cannon Dam. Also near there is the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site.

    Harry mentioned Marceline. Click here and scroll down to post #24 for a little "tour" of the Disney Museum and sites to see in Marceline, if you're "into" Disney at all. Definitely a "must see" if you are! Marceline is about 3 miles off of US-36.

    Continuing west on US-36, there's the John J Pershing Boyhood Home near Laclede.

    Do keep your eyes peeled when you are driving around small towns in MO. There are many Amish in the area, and they only drive horse-and-buggies.

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 12-09-2015 at 06:24 PM. Reason: added links

  7. #7


    Another sight seeing road trip attraction I meant to mention is in Omaha. The Henry Dooley Zoo is one of the finest in America. It is only a few miles off I-29. Mutual of Omaha is intimately involved in the exhibits and all are first class. If you do visit the zoo, allow a minimum of four hours, because your kids will love it!

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