Best Things to Do Around Mount Rushmore With Dogs

Exploring Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills is an unforgettable experience, and it’s even better when you can share it with your furry best friend. From towering granite peaks to lush forests, there’s plenty to discover. At Under Canvas, we love traveling with dogs, and all of our locations are dog-friendly, including Under Canvas Mount Rushmore. Check out our guide to the best things to do near Mount Rushmore for tail-wagging adventures.

Visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial With Your Dog

You’re probably wondering, “Are dogs allowed at Mount Rushmore?” Like many of our beautiful national parks, dog-friendly areas are limited due to the many visitors the park receives each day. Though there are limitations on where dogs can go at Mount Rushmore, you can still enjoy a visit to this iconic site together. Take advantage of the designated pet areas, scenic trails, and nearby facilities to ensure a pleasant and memorable experience for you and your dog.

Where Dogs Are Allowed

When you arrive at Mount Rushmore, park your car and head to the entrance. There’s a nice spot before the entry gate to take a family picture with the presidents. But this is also where non-service dogs will have to stay behind. If you travel alone, you must stay outside with your dog. If you visit with other people, you can take turns inside the memorial while someone stays outside with your dog.

Check out these pet-friendly areas in Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but remember pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet to enjoy these areas:

Main Visitor Area Entrance: Pets are allowed at the entrance to the main visitor area and by the benches at the main pergola (the row of large columns at the walk-in entrance).

Pet Exercise Area: Follow the yellow paw prints from the parking lot to find the pet exercise area. This spot offers excellent views and is perfect for a quick break.

Outside the Developed Area: This includes the spaces outside the main visitor areas.

Sidewalks and Green Spaces: Pets can be on all sidewalks and green spaces between the parking garages.

Blackberry Trail: This designated National Recreational Trail is a moderate one-mile gravel trail that connects with the

Centennial Trail in the Black Elk Wilderness, part of the Black Hills National Forest. There are several small water crossings, a wooden bridge, and two picnic tables for a nature lunch. Hikers can begin at the Blackberry Trail trailhead across South Dakota Highway 244 from the parking facility. The hike takes between 30-60 minutes.

Facilities and Services

While kennel services are not available at Mount Rushmore, they are available in nearby communities if you plan to spend the day or enjoy the lighting ceremony. To help keep Mount Rushmore clean for those who visit after you, please pick up after your pet using the bags provided on each side of the parking garage.

Drive the Iron Mountain Highway

Iron Mountain Road, a 17-mile stretch connecting Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial, is renowned for having some of the most beautiful scenery in the Black Hills. Featuring three tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore and the famous “Pigtail Bridges” for rapid altitude changes, this road, constructed in the 1930s, is a masterpiece. The creator famously said, “To do the scenery justice, you should drive no more than 20 mph, and to do it full justice, you should simply get out and walk.”  The journey, which takes about an hour with stops for scenic overlooks and photo-ops, is dog-friendly, allowing you to share the stunning experience with your furry companion.

Cruise the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway

This 68-mile scenic drive is the perfect way to see the top sights in the Black Hills and is one of the 10 Most Outstanding Byways in North America. The byway winds through some of the most stunning landscapes in South Dakota, offering numerous pull-offs where you and your furry friend can stretch your legs and take in the breathtaking views. Start your drive at Iron Mountain Road to experience the famous bridges and tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore. Don’t miss the Needles Highway, known for its narrow granite spires and picturesque views. Make sure to stop at Sylvan Lake, a perfect spot for a picnic and a walk around the scenic shoreline.

Hike Black Hills National Forest

While pets are not allowed on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial trails, there are plenty of pet-friendly trails in the surrounding Black Hills National Forest. The 1.2-mile round-trip hike to Black Elk Peak, the highest point east of the Rockies, offers panoramic views you and your pup will love. Be sure to bring plenty of water and dog booties for heat protection and to shield your pup’s paws from sharp rocks. The Sunday Gulch Trail is another great option, featuring a 3.9-mile loop that winds through a beautiful, boulder-strewn gulch. Happy tails and happy trails!

Visit Custer State Park

Custer State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and their canine companions. Dogs are welcome on most trails and can even run off-leash in some areas. The 3-mile round-trip hike to Little Devils Tower offers spectacular views of the Black Hills and is less crowded than other popular trails. For a more leisurely experience, stroll around the 1-mile Sylvan Lake Shore Trail, where your pup can cool off in the clear waters. Take the chance to drive the Wildlife Loop Road, where you might encounter bison, pronghorns, and wild burros.

Explore Devil’s Tower National Monument

A visit to Devil’s Tower National Monument is a must when exploring the Black Hills with your dog. Rising dramatically 867 feet above the trees, this iconic butte is a sight to behold. Leashed dogs can accompany you in the parking areas, picnic spots, and around the base of the tower on the pet-friendly sections as you take in the awe-inspiring views and the rich Native American cultural history that surrounds this sacred site.

Make a Splash at Pactola Lake

Pactola Reservoir is perfect for a day by the water with your dog. Located just a short drive from Under Canvas Mount Rushmore, the reservoir offers beautiful, crystal-clear waters and several pet-friendly beaches. Let your pup splash in the water or enjoy a scenic hike along the 4-mile Pactola Lake Trail. You can even rent boats from the marina for a day on the water. Pine forests surround this high-elevation reservoir and offer stunning views of the surrounding hills, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

Chow Down at Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Head to nearby Keystone or Rapid City for a selection of dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor patios. Don’t feel like going out? Enjoy an al fresco culinary dining experience at camp.

Ruby House Restaurant

Located in Keystone, this historic 1900s restaurant with turn-of-the-century decor offers a variety of American dishes. Their pet-friendly outdoor patio makes it a perfect spot for a meal with your dog.

Firehouse Brewing Company

Set in a renovated firehouse, this Rapid City brewery welcomes dogs on their outdoor patio. Enjoy a cold craft beer and a delicious meal while your pup relaxes by your side.

Himalayan Kitchen

Try Himalayan Kitchen in Rapid City, where you and your pup can sit on their casual outdoor patio and enjoy flavorful dishes from Nepal, India, and Tibet.

Saloon No. 10

Known for its historical charm, Deadwood offers gold panning and saloons with staff in period costumes, transporting you back in time. For a dog-friendly dining spot, visit Saloon No. 10, where the downstairs area welcomes pets for lunch or dinner.

Under Canvas Mount Rushmore

Dig into a wholesome breakfast or delicious dinner made with locally sourced ingredients just steps from your luxury tent. Our outdoor dining is perfect for enjoying a meal with your furry friend with views of Mount Rushmore.

Where to Stay With Dogs at Mount Rushmore

Nestled in the Black Hills, Under Canvas Mount Rushmore offers majestic views from luxury safari-style tents or the outdoor lounge area where you can relax with your pooch. Explore the camp together, take a short hike nearby, or simply unwind and watch the sunset from the comfort of your private deck. End your day at the nightly campfire for s’mores, sharing stories and making memories outside together.



For more tips on preparing for your trip, check out our blog post on What to Pack for Glamping with Your Dog.

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