Portland to Mt Rushmore National Memorial Road Trip Guide


For families with a spirit of adventure, a seven-day RV road trip from Portland, Oregon to Mt Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota will not disappoint.

Portland, a metropolitan city that is the largest of its kind in the state, rests at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. An incredibly scenic city, Portland is well-renowned for its charming parks, pretty bridges, and vast abundance of biking paths. Portland is also a city that highly prizes green technology initiatives.

A trendy metropolis, Portland is home to many hip eateries including microbreweries and chic cafes. When it comes to beautiful scenery, it's tough to beat the stunning landscape found at Washington Park, a public recreational area that is home to a Japanese Garden, the Oregon Zoo, and a railway.

Though Portland has the same hipster vibe as trendy cities such as Seattle, it is quite liberal in its views. The city has a rich heritage as a vital shipping port and is also home to the largest number of strip clubs per capita of any city in the United States.

Portland's positioning in the Williamette Valley places the city within some of the lushest vineyards in the area. For those that truly love their wine, it is well worth the time to make the trip to do some tasting at such vineyards as the Archery Summit Winery and the Vista Hills Vineyard.

A thriving foodie city, nearly any type of cuisine can be found in Portland. This metropolitan area takes great pride in farm to table style cooking with an emphasis made on organic and locally sourced ingredients.

Portland is a city that is fairly easy to navigate in an RV. With so many outdoor recreational areas to explore, there are many places to safely park the RV to discover the region on foot.

For those looking to enjoy an RV stay in the region, Government Island State Recreation Area and Promontory Park Campground are excellent spots to enjoy a few days of R&R before heading out on an RV adventure.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

Custer State Park

At 353 miles, the journey to Custer State Park in Rapid City is quite long but is well worth the extra effort. A park of immense beauty, the landscape at Custer State Park is marked by impressive granite-topped mountain peaks and gently rolling terrain. Also found on the grounds are several crystal clear bodies of water that are ideal for swimming.

Custer State Park consists of 71,000 acres in total. It has an active wildlife community, making it a great place to capture some photos of the animals that make this park their home. Other popular activities to enjoy here include hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, and camping.

Pets are welcome at Custer State Park but must remain leashed at all times. It is important to note that dogs are not permitted on any of the beaches where swimming is allowed.

The on-site amenities here include camping cabins, canoe and kayak rentals, drinking water, a dump station, power hookups, a fishing dock, toilets, showers, picnic tables, and much, much more.

Pictograph Cave State Park

150 miles from the American Computer and Robotics Museum is Pictograph Cave State Park. This public recreational center was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964. An area rich in archaeology, over 100 pictographs have been found on the premises, many of which are believed to trace their roots to over 2,000 years ago.

Though little debate exists about the age of pictographs, experts do not agree on what the pictures mean. Each of them features animals, warriors, and rifles, but the full meaning of the story is not entirely clear.

This public park consists of three main caves known as Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost. All of these spots were important dwellings for hunters in ancient times. The caves were formed from the sandstone cliffs as a result of wind and water erosion. It was in 1936 that explorers first stumbled upon the pictographs found within the caves.

Pictograph Cave State Park is home to over 30,000 unique artifacts; some of which include tools, weapons, paintings, and instruments used to craft these materials.

Viewing the entire property means hiking an easy loop trail that is 1/4 mile in total length. The entire size of the park is 23 acres. It rises 3,500 feet in elevation, making areas of the grounds challenging to traverse unless in very good physical condition.

After a vigorous hike through the grounds at Pictograph Cave State Park, it might be a good idea to park the RV for an overnight stay in Billings. Among the best campgrounds for RV camping are Billings KOA Holiday and Yellowstone River Campground.

American Computer and Robotics Museum

Just 87.7 miles away is another interesting spot for families looking to enjoy a little adventure. The American Computer and Robotics Museum was built in 1990 by Mr. George Kereemedjiev, a gentleman with a vision for collecting and displaying rare artifacts that tell the history of technology.

The exhibits found in the museum encompass over 4,000 years of history in the information technology sphere. It begins with the Sumerian's development of cuneiform tablets and reaches to the manufacturing of the first personal computer. Other important topics addresses at the museum include Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, the Enigma Code, and much, much more.

The American Computer and Robotics Museum is the most popular place to visit in Bozeman.

With a head full of fun facts, it might be a good idea to enjoy a little R&R before hitting the road on the next leg of the journey towards Mt Rushmore National Memorial. Consider an RV stay at Bear Canyon Campground or Bozeman Hot Springs Campground.

World Museum of Mining

For a truly unique experience on an RV road trip from Portland to Mt Rushmore National Memorial, it is worth the 160-mile drive to get to the World Museum of Mining. This popular attraction takes as its primary mission the preservation of the historical significance of the mining industry in the region.

The museum was first opened to the public in 1963. At the time, no one could have foreseen that the mining days in Butte were numbered with all of the operational mines completely closed twenty years later.

Butte was a hard-rock mining town for a period of one hundred years. During this time, it earned the distinction of being one of the most successful and fertile copper mines in the history of the industry.

The World Museum of Mining rests on the same grounds as one of its formerly operational mines: Orphan Girl Mine. The property consists of 50 buildings filled with exhibits as well as numerous artifacts for families to enjoy.

Tours of the abandoned mine are available where families can capture a glimpse of what life was like for those who risked their lives in the mines every day.

Thinking an overnight stay might be in order? Why not park the RV at Beaverdam Campground and Picnic Area for the night?

Bitterroot River

For those that enjoy the opportunity to do some fishing, the 240 miles en route to Montana's Bitterroot River will just fly by. A stream of medium length, the Bitterroot River is the combination of the East Fork Bitterroot and the West Fork Bitterroot Rivers which both find their source in Connor, Montana.

The property that houses the Bitterroot River is incredibly beautiful. The river's trajectory passes through two immense mountain ranges; the Sapphire Mountains and the Bitterroot Mountains.

Bell Crossing offers the ideal spot for families to do some fishing. Located in the heart of the Bitterroot Valley, this area enjoys relatively moderate weather conditions year-round though it can get quite chilly during the winter.

Fly fishing is the name of the game at Bitterroot River. It is a prime location for catching many different varieties of trout.

After a day out on the water at Bitterroot River, an overnight stay is the perfect ending to the perfect day. Consider parking the RV at Chief Looking Glass Campground or Missoula KOA Holiday.

Spokane Falls

Just 141 miles from McNary National Wildlife Refuge is one of Washington state's most popular destinations: Spokane Falls. The rush of the crashing waterfall found at this beautiful attraction is the first sound that greets families upon arrival. The closer visitors come to the falls, the louder their call becomes. During late spring, waters flow from the nearby mountains, contributing to the power and strength of the waterfalls. The Spokane River meanders through the grounds for many miles, creating a vast gorge in the landscape.

There are many things to see and do at Spokane Falls. The property is home to many statues of immense size that were handcrafted by a local tribesman.

Spokane Falls is home to several pedestrian suspension bridges that are a marvel to behold. Hiking trails lead past the upper falls to two suspension bridges. Though many are disturbed by the natural movement of these passageways, they are safe to cross on foot. When the melted snow runs off the mountain, these bridges can become drenched in water. The pedestrian bridges offer incredible views of the nearby falls.

For those that would like to enjoy the view without all the additional walking, SkyRide offers an excellent solution. SkyRide is essentially a gondola ride that permits visitors to have a different vantage point from which to survey the falls and surrounding park grounds. The gondola ride takes approximately 20 minutes in total.

Tuckered out from the fresh mountain air after a gondola ride? Consider an RV stay at Riverside State Park or Spokane KOA Journey.

McNary National Wildlife Refuge

A drive of 228 miles from Portland takes RV campers to McNary National Wildlife Refuge. Located along the Columbia River's eastern shores where the Snake River meets the Walla Walla, this recreational area is a haven of unique plant and animal life for families to explore.
The property is home to an extremely diverse set of ecosystems to support a wide range of animals and vegetation on the grounds. Among the most interesting topographical features are refuge bays and shorelines which form the ideal breeding grounds for Chinook salmon, steelhead, and sockeye.
The refuge is also home to many different species of migratory birds including the Pacific Flyway mallards as well as many other shorebirds and wading birds.
Many endangered species are also spotted at McNary National Wildlife Refuge. During a visit, families may be treated to such rare sights as bald eagles and peregrine falcons.

The refuge consists of over 700 acres of property in total. Much of the food required to feed the wildlife on the grounds is grown directly on the land. Some of the most popular crops include corn, wheat, and alfalfa.
After a day exploring the beauty of the McNary National Wildlife Refuge, a good night's rest just might be in order. Consider an RV stay at Pasco/Tri-Cities KOA.

Portland Japanese Garden

Nestled within the heart of the popular Washington Park is the stunning Portland Japanese Garden. Incredibly beautiful and with a unique air of tranquility, this popular outdoor haven is the perfect place to enjoy some R&R before heading out on a seven day RV adventure.

The Portland Japanese Garden earns high marks when it comes to the authenticity of its carefully crafted landscape. It has earned the distinction of being named one of the most accurate reflections of traditional Japanese gardening styles found outside Japan itself. The gardens cover five and a half acres of property in total. Also found on the premises are a Japanese tea house, gently rolling streams, and a vast abundance of scenic walkways to enjoy. A stunning view of Mount Hood can be seen when meandering through the grounds.

This popular Japanese-style garden was developed in 1963. Its primary purpose was to promote healing between the factions involved in World War II. Its design includes five different sections, each with their own unique style to represent the importance of focusing on commonalities to achieve peace.

Guides tours of the premises are available, and public events take place on the grounds frequently throughout the year.

For more information about tour schedules, hours of operation, and any associated fees, consult the garden's website.


Families will be delighted to finally arrive at Mt Rushmore National Memorial after seven days on the road from Portland. Nestled within the Black Hills in the state of South Dakota, Mt Rushmore sits just outside the town of Rapid City. Rapid City is home to many attractions including popular eateries and excellent shopping.

Mt Rushmore's presidential sculptures measure an impressive 60 feet in total height. Though most families place a high priority on capturing photos of the monument itself, there are lots of other fun things to do during a trip to Mt Rushmore. The property is home to the Presidential Trail, a hiking path that leads past the Presidents to the Youth Exploration Area, the Lakota, Nakota & Dakota Heritage Village.

While exploring the premises, families will want to be sure to stop to enjoy a sampling of the ice cream made from Thomas Jefferson's own recipe. Nearby Blackberry Trail is also worth taking the time to hike for its incredible views alone.

There is ample parking for RVs and cars at Mt Rushmore National Memorial.

For families looking to enjoy a few nights doing some RV camping in the area, some of the most popular campgrounds include Mt Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch Resort and Horsethief Lake.

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