Cedar Rapids to Black Hills via US-20 W & I-90
Take A Road Trip

Route Distance: 730 miles

Recommended Trip Duration: 7-8 days

Drive Time: 11ish hours

When the time is right for you to safely travel, you’ll want to see epic landscapes across the Midwest on your way to explore Black Hills National Forest. Follow this route through Iowa and South Dakota for rushing waterfalls, dramatic overlooks, iconic attractions and equally appealing eats along the way. Don't forget to order your Vacation Guide before hitting the road to discover even more South Dakota adventures.

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Cedar Rapids → Sioux Falls (5.5 Hours)

Catch I-380 north out of Cedar Rapids to US-20 west, stopping just an hour into the trip in Cedar Falls for a late breakfast or early lunch to tide you over until this evening. Fill up on biscuits & gravy, corned beef hash, French toast, country fried steak, meatloaf and more at J’s Homestyle Cooking (1724 W 31st St. #4831) or enjoy seared tuna, bacon-cheddar tots, sweet chili Brussels and an impressive lineup of salads, wraps and burgers at Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill (1724 W 31st Street).

Hop back on US-20 west to I-29 north to finish the 4.5-hour drive to Sioux Falls, the halfway point to Black Hills. Take an easy walk from downtown to marvel at the city’s top attraction and namesake, the tumbling waters in Falls Park (131 E. Falls Park Drive). Afterward, head back to town for a walkabout to explore the Butterfly House & Aquarium (4320 S Oxbow Ave.) before enjoying drinks and dinner out. Go retro at Phillips Avenue Diner (121 S Phillips Ave.), grab craft burgers and beer at JL Beers (323 S Phillips Ave.), elevate your eats at Grille 26 (1716 S Western Ave.) or splurge on a super-swanky meal at Roam Kitchen + Bar (4525 W Empire Place).

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Butterfly House
Butterfly House & Aquarium
Phillips Ave Diner
Phillips Avenue Diner
Falls Park
Falls Park

Now check into your hotel to rest up for Day 2 – and another day of play! Accommodations range from the full amenities of ClubHouse Hotel & Suites (2320 South Louise Ave.) or The Hotel on Phillips (100 North Phillips Ave.) to more intimate lodging at the Historic Victorian Inn (117 North Duluth Ave.) or Steever House Bed & Breakfast (46850 276th St., Lennox).

Sioux Falls → Black Hills (5.5 hours)

After breakfast, take I-90 west to Mitchell for a stop at The World’s Only Corn Palace (604 N Main St.). Because how could you not? The free guided tours of its murals made of corn are simply “a-maize-ing.” (See what we did there?)

If you have time for a quick side trip on down the road, head south on Route 240 toward Interior to soak up “aah-mazing” views at Big Badlands Overlook inside Badlands National Park. From there, you can either check out the nearby Minuteman Missile Visitors Center (24545 Cottonwood Road, Philip) to learn the impact of the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System during the Cold War or continue through the Badlands to catch incredible views at Yellow Mounds Overlook and Pinnacles Overlook before leaving the park and arriving in Wall.

Either way, end up in Wall for a perfect bucket-list pit stop at Wall Drug Store (510 Main St.), home of rich history, culture and kitsch as well as a good meal and doughnuts to die for. (Pro tip: Pick up a dozen for the road!)

Corn Palace
Corn Palace
Badlands National Park Bighorn Sheep
Badlands National Park
Wall Drug Store
Wall Drug Store

As you near Black Hills, pick a path to your favorite home base for options aplenty!

In Keystone, Powder House Lodge Dining, Spirits & Lodging (24125 Hwy 16A) includes a variety of rustic and deluxe cabins in a wooded setting, while K Bar S Lodge (434 Old Hill City Road) offers upscale lodging with views of Mount Rushmore. Sylvan Lake Lodge (24572 Hwy 87) is a family favorite inside Custer State Park in Custer. Nearby Harney Camp Cabins (24345 Hwy 87) features cozy options that can accommodate multiple families and you can keep the cabin theme going at Pine Rest Cabins (24063 Hwy 385, Hill City) on the road to Crazy Horse Memorial.

Pine Rest
Pine Rest Cabins
Sylvan Lodge
Sylvan Lake Lodge

Ways to Explore Black HIlls

Once you’re in the area, it’s easy to travel to & from multiple cities and experience the best each has to offer.

Top Attractions

Whatever you do, don’t miss two of the region’s top draws. Mount Rushmore National Memorial near Keystone is a towering monument to American history, featuring larger-than-life faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved into the side of a stone mountain. Just a few miles away is Crazy Horse Memorial, the world's largest in-progress mountain carving that honors and preserves the culture, traditions and living heritage of Native Americans.

Mount Rushmore
Scenic Drives

Although you’ll find a scenic route just about everywhere you look, here are two especially noteworthy treks. Also known as 16A, Iron Mountain Road is a 17-mile stretch through the Black Hills that includes – get this – 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 wooden pigtail bridges and 3 tunnels  along with seemingly limitless wildlife and nature. Wildlife Loop Road passes through 18 miles of grasslands and pine-dotted hills teeming with wildlife in Custer State Park. 

Iron Mountain Rd
Iron Mountain Road
Wildlife Loop Road
Wildlife Loop Road
Food & Drink

Speaking of Custer, this historic town offers a wealth of food and drink options. A chef-driven concept serving innovative breakfast and dinner options, Skogen Kitchen (29 N 5th St.) blends the owners’ heritage and local flavors in dazzling combinations. (“Skogen” means “the forest” in Norwegian.) For something more casual, start with the spicy green beans or spinach-artichoke dip at The Custer Wolf (506 Mt. Rushmore Road) before choosing from a variety of popular sandwiches and entrees featuring beef, fish, chicken, pasta and more.

Skogen Kitchen – Custer
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