Roadtrip with RVshare Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument

Embarking on a Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument road trip is an excellent way to take in Red Rock Country and the Black Hills. You will be treated to unbelievable scenic beauty when you visit the Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands national parks as they are all fantastic places to go hiking, regardless of your ability level. There are also fantastic state parks to visit where you can go hiking, fishing, and mountaineering as you travel through Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming on your way to South Dakota. This is a fantastic camping trip because not only do you get to see incredible scenery, but there are also fabulous cities to explore along the route, like Las Vegas, Nevada; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Casper, Wyoming. 

Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument Road Trip Itinerary

  • Trip Length: 18.5 hours
  • Mileage: 1255 miles
  • Fun Fact: It took 14 years to carve the 60-foot-tall president’s faces into Mt. Rushmore.

Nearby National Parks

Grand Canyon National Park

When you get near Kanab, Utah, head back south for about 80 minutes to visit the Grand Canyon National Park. This will bring you to the canyon’s north rim, which is much quieter than the south rim. Follow the 0.5-mile Bright Angel Point trail to get a glimpse of the canyon directly below you. Then, hike along the 0.6-mile Cape Royal Trail to see the Colorado River as it flows through the canyon. In addition to short hikes, there are at least two nearby viewpoints that are perfect for photography. Head to Point Imperial to capture long-distance images as Painted Desert and the Navajo Nation unfold before you. Then, go to Cape Royal to capture images of the Colorado River as the canyon surrounds you on every side. 

Capitol Reef National Park

Head east on Interstate 70, and take the Utah Highway 24 exit to visit Capitol Reef National Park. This 2.5-hour drive is stunning, and you will want to explore the Waterpocket Fold. This geologic monocline that extends for almost 100 miles is a fantastic place for a hike. While there are hiking trails leading you through deep narrow gorges, past historical sites, and under natural stone arches, consider the fantastic hikes in the Sulphur Springs area. You will almost always be wading in shallow water on these hikes, so they are perfect for a hot summer day. Depending on the weather when you visit, some hikes in this area may even require you to swim a short distance. There are three waterfalls to enjoy, and you will scramble down 12 rocky ledges. This park also has excellent opportunities for canyoning, rock climbing, and biking. 

Arches National Park  

Going a little further on Interstate 70 rather than going back to your original road brings you to the exit for U.S. 191. Head south to explore Arches National Park, where you can see over 2,000 natural stone arches and many other rock formations. Like the trail leading to the 128-foot-tall Balancing Rocks, many easy routes are paved, making them accessible to everyone. Other courses, like the Delicate Arch Trail, are more strenuous. There are many fantastic things to do in this national park, including biking and horseback riding. 

Canyonlands National Park  

Continue south from Arches National Park to reach Canyonlands National Park in about 30 minutes. Despite the proximity, you have left the arches behind and entered a land filled with deep canyons. This park is split into three land areas by the rivers that divide this park. The Island in the Sky Area has several short hikes where you can explore the canyons from above them. There are also longer trails with more strenuous hiking conditions that will take you six or seven hours to traverse; these paths leave this area and continue down to the river. 

Nearby State Parks

Buckskin Mountain State Park  

Head northeast from Joshua Tree National Park to visit Buckskin Mountain State Park. This park near Parker, Arizona, is a fantastic place to follow a trail starting at the park’s visitor center into the nearby mountains. Then, come back and take a swim in the lake or go for a boat ride. This venue is also a great spot for bass fishing, so bring along your spinnerbaits. 

Deer Creek State Park  

Deer Creek State Park is on the Deer Reservoir’s shores near Wallsburg, Utah. Go windsurfing on the reservoir, or see the park from a different angle by going zip-lining. The lake is also a popular spot for swimming and boating. Settle in around a campfire at night, and enjoy gazing at the stars. 

Antelope Island State Park  

Located on an island near the Great Salt Lake, you will want to see the bison at Antelope Island State Park. Make sure to set aside some time to cool off by playing in the water and enjoying a stroll along the beach. Consider timing your road trip itinerary from Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument to correspond with the annual antelope roundup to see cowboys rounding up the herd as some are moved to other locations annually in the fall. 

Custer State Park  

Explore the badlands by visiting Custer State Park near Custer, South Dakota. There are plenty of great hiking trails, like the 3-mile Lover’s Leap Trail, that offer stunning views of the scenery. Like the Creekside Trail, there are also shorter trails that are paved, making it easily accessible for hikers of all skill levels. This park is also ideal for a scenic drive that allows you to see the granite formations, like Needle’s Eye, where nature has cut a large opening through the rock formation. Custer State Park covers more than 71,000 acres, and you can go on a drive to explore the unique Black Hills at this site. 

Along the Way

Mojave National Preserve  

Covering more than 1.6-million acres, the Mojave National Preserve is a great place to go hiking across sand dunes and through a Joshua tree forest, and to climb a cinder cone volcano. If you have access to a four-wheel-drive vehicle on your road trip from Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument, some great off-roading adventures await you. There are also some unique places to go horseback riding. 

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument  

Located near St. George, Utah, the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is an excellent place for those looking for a canyon hiking experience without the crowds. Consider trails like the Mt. Trumball Trail, which takes five to six hours to hike and offers stunning views of the Toroweap Valley, the Grand Canyon, the Kaibab Plateau, the western Vermilion Cliffs, and the Pine Valley Mountains. 

Bridal Veil Falls  

Stop near Provo, Utah, to explore Bridal Veil Falls. Follow the short, paved trail from the parking lot to see this waterfall in Provo Canyon. There are picnic and barbecue grills available. This spot makes an ideal lunch stop on your Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument RV road trip. 

The High Roller  

Take a ride on The High Roller Ferris wheel in Paradise, Nevada. As of 2021, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. The ride lasts for 30 minutes, and it is a good idea to check for special times such as happy hours. You can even see part of your Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument road trip path from the top of this attraction. 

Main Cities You Will Pass Through

Las Vegas, Nevada

There are many great Las Vegas campgrounds, like Thousand Trails Las Vegas RV Resort, which is a fabulous desert campground with a spacious swimming pool, or Las Vegas KOA Journey at Sam’s Town, which offers free shuttles to the Las Vegas Strip. There are also Las Vegas RV dump stations available at King’s Row RV Park and Riviera RV Resort. 

Salt Lake City, Utah  

Exploring Utah's capital is easy when you choose to stay in a convenient Salt Lake City campground. Consider the Great Salt Lake Campground at Great Salt Lake State Park if you want to play on the water. Another terrific choice is the Pony Express RV Resort with its fun outdoor games and bike rentals. You can find RV dump stations at Flying J Travel Plazas and Deer Creek State Park. 

Casper, Wyoming  

Casper is a fun city to explore with its charming Old West vibe. Casper campground choices include Casper East RV Park & Campground where you will love challenging your friends on the miniature golf course, and your children will love the playground. Another great choice is Fort Casper Campground where there are two private fishing ponds and easy access to the North Platte River. Casper RV dump stations are available at Bentz’s Town Pump and Hat Six Travel Center. 

Find Adventure from Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument

Rent an RV

When you follow this road trip itinerary from Joshua Tree to Mt. Rushmore National Monument, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Joshua Tree or Mt. Rushmore National Monument.

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