Overall Rating
Overall Rating (64 Reviews)
4.7
(64 Ratings)(64 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
4.6
SCENERY
4.9
PRODUCTION
4.4
SWAG
4.4
The Mt. Rushmore Half marathon begins at the Ghost Canyon Dude Ranch on a well-packed dirt road for about 3 miles before turning into pavement. This is a challenging course with lots of gorgeous views of Mount Rushmore and the surrounding Black Hills! Though this course has a lot of … MORE
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Recent reviews

    rar268 FIRST-TIMER '21

    Communication from the initial sign-up through the completion of the race was fantastic. There were a few hiccups the morning of the race, but I appreciated that they were addressed … MORE

    Communication from the initial sign-up through the completion of the race was fantastic. There were a few hiccups the morning of the race, but I appreciated that they were addressed immediately via email after the race. I loved how there were tailored training plans if you were interested in using them. Looking to doing another “vacation races” race.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
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    krthomas FIRST-TIMER '21

    A showcase race for all that’s great about South Dakota! Hard elevation change in the first half with phenomenal views with a (mostly) downhill second half. Highly recommend! MORE

    A showcase race for all that’s great about South Dakota! Hard elevation change in the first half with phenomenal views with a (mostly) downhill second half. Highly recommend!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    BoxerMom33 FIRST-TIMER '21

    This was my first Vacation Race and I loved it! I volunteered the night before the race and that went great. Race morning there were some shuttle bus mishaps and … MORE

    This was my first Vacation Race and I loved it! I volunteered the night before the race and that went great. Race morning there were some shuttle bus mishaps and the porta potty lines at the start line were insane which caused my friends and I to start the race almost 20 min late. After we started the race everything was great from the views to the water stops. This was my toughest half with the almost 8 miles of going up a mountain with several switchbacks but it was worth it for the views. I love scenic races and this one did not disappoint.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    tundra.25 REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This race had amazing views of the forest and Mount Rushmore. Plus it was run on a world famous road! I absolutely loved it and am sad it might have … MORE

    This race had amazing views of the forest and Mount Rushmore. Plus it was run on a world famous road! I absolutely loved it and am sad it might have been the last one. The only bad thing about it was the level of difficulty. Those hills were something else! I ran them in what felt like slow motion while many others walked. I don’t blame them, but I had a goal and was running in memory of my dad so I worked hard and met it.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    CheriRichardson FIRST-TIMER '21

    Vacation Races’ Mt. Rushmore Half Marathon was an amazing experience. Run on the iconic Iron Mountain Road in Custer State Park, South Dakota, it had spectacular scenery. You run through … MORE

    Vacation Races’ Mt. Rushmore Half Marathon was an amazing experience. Run on the iconic Iron Mountain Road in Custer State Park, South Dakota, it had spectacular scenery. You run through three one-lane tunnels, each framing the monument and making for a great photo stop. You can also see and take selfies with the famous stone presidents at several other points along the course. The road was closed to traffic during the race, making it all the more enjoyable, not to mention safer.

    They don’t call the area the Black Hills for nothing! The course is rating 4.5 out of 5 for difficulty, and the rating is accurate. The first half of the course climbs from 4054 feet to 5439 feet in elevation, and the climbs are steep. Thankfully there’s an occasional downhill, but for the most part it’s up – up – up.

    The downhills come in the second half. A couple of them are quite steep. Runner’s tip: Float – don’t fly. Stop for pictures along the pigtail bridges. The second half does include a couple of rollers, and you’ll need to keep your head in the game to not get discouraged at the steep uphill between miles 11 and 12. Then down into the small town of Keystone and the finish line.

    If you’ve read my previous reviews of Vacation Races’ half marathons, you can skip this next part. OK, still with me? Vacation Races is such a great racing company! They do everything they can to protect the environment in the areas near National Parks where they hold their races. The courses are cup-free. You can bring your own hydration system, or order a free hydropouch. The Expo before the race is bag-free. Bring your own. They provide containers to sort your trash – recyclable, compostable, and plain trash – and I hear they actually go through it after the fact to make sure we racers put our banana peels in the correct bin. They also have a very liberal refund / deferral policy, and their post-race treat boxes are legendary.

    The race started at Ghost Canyon and finished in Keystone. Most of the racers chose to stay in Keystone (or at least park in Keystone) and ride the shuttles. I’d like to give a shout-out to the Baymont Hotel in Keystone for putting out their usual 6:00 AM continental breakfast at 3:00 AM to accommodate the runners. We thank you!

    Once you’re in the area there’s so much to see and do. Definitely visit the Mt. Rushmore Memorial. And Custer State Park. And the Badlands. And the Crazy Horse Memorial. The list goes on…

    2021 was the last year for the Mt. Rushmore Half – for a while. I suspect Vacation Races will bring it back in the future. Watch for it – and when it comes back, sign up. You’ll love it!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Myrr84 FIRST-TIMER '21

    This is not for the faint of heart. I now understand why people looked at me crazy when I said this was my first half...and their response of, "This is … MORE

    This is not for the faint of heart. I now understand why people looked at me crazy when I said this was my first half…and their response of, “This is your first half ever and you picked this one???” The first almost 8 miles is uphill with very little relief. It is gorgeous scenery all the way up and down. Take advantage of the hydration stations. That last “little hill” between miles 11 and 12 feels brutal simply because you know that you’re almost done. You can taste the finish line. I’m sad to see this be the last year for this race but I’m sure glad I pushed myself to sign up and complete it! 100% worth it!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    maddieludt FIRST-TIMER '21

    This course is no joke, but the payoff is immense! Gorgeous views of Rushmore and the Black Hills area! South Dakota scenery is highly underrated. As always, VR put on … MORE

    This course is no joke, but the payoff is immense! Gorgeous views of Rushmore and the Black Hills area! South Dakota scenery is highly underrated. As always, VR put on a great race!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    erin.johnstone FIRST-TIMER '21

    This is my second Vacation Race and they continue to put on amazing races! Hopefully they bring this one back. The first nearly 8 miles are uphill, but the views … MORE

    This is my second Vacation Race and they continue to put on amazing races! Hopefully they bring this one back. The first nearly 8 miles are uphill, but the views make it worth it! I think the short hill at mile 11.5 was the worst, which wouldn’t even be considered a hill if it was at the beginning! Such a challenge and accomplishment for anyone that completes this race.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    The views are amazing! Not a boring spot on the course! Great volunteers at water stops! Fun and full of energy! Out houses could have been placed better. More at … MORE

    The views are amazing! Not a boring spot on the course! Great volunteers at water stops! Fun and full of energy!
    Out houses could have been placed better. More at the first few miles less at the finish. Not a fan of shuttling, but understand the necessity of it.
    VR always puts the best races on, Mt Rushmore tops my experiences! I would do it again, for sure!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
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    DaBomb REPEAT RUNNER '21

    Awesome aid stations, beautiful scenery, very challenging uphill with rewarding downhill and amazing scenery! I ran this race in 2019, and I am happy I was able to run it … MORE

    Awesome aid stations, beautiful scenery, very challenging uphill with rewarding downhill and amazing scenery! I ran this race in 2019, and I am happy I was able to run it again! I had so much fun running this race!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    musical23 FIRST-TIMER '21

    As usual, Vacation Races did an awesome job. There were a couple of hiccups, but they explained and owned them. The scenery for this course is simply beautiful, definitely worth … MORE

    As usual, Vacation Races did an awesome job. There were a couple of hiccups, but they explained and owned them. The scenery for this course is simply beautiful, definitely worth the difficulty of the course. Everything was well marked, aid stations were plentiful, well stocked and the volunteers were great. Being from the mid-west, there was no way I could be fully prepared for the altitude or the hills… we don’t have anything like that in Michigan. All in all GREAT race and GREAT race production. If you’ve never done a VR race, it’s totally worth it just to listen to Colleen the race announcer… 👍🤘

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    candyc FIRST-TIMER '21

    The first 8 miles are uphill, and the first 3 miles are on gravel. Elevation at the start line was around 4,000 ft, and we climbed up another 2,000 ft. … MORE

    The first 8 miles are uphill, and the first 3 miles are on gravel. Elevation at the start line was around 4,000 ft, and we climbed up another 2,000 ft. The last 5 miles were steep going downhill. I can see Mount Rushmore from a distance but still great views from Black Hills Forest. About 2,800 runners participated. Packet pick-up was easy. The aid station was fully stocked up on water, gnarly, and food. It was a cupless event so you need to have your own hydro pouch. Overall, great experience and definitely memorable because of the tough course but rewarding with great scenic views.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    runningrebecca FIRST-TIMER '21

    The Mount Rushmore half was a lot of fun. Vacation races does half marathons very well. This was a tough course. I'm not impressed w their ultra as far as … MORE

    The Mount Rushmore half was a lot of fun. Vacation races does half marathons very well. This was a tough course. I’m not impressed w their ultra as far as runner safety, though. They rely on technology in parts of the country that have no cell service! If I had fallen off a cliff while pacing at the Bryce 100, no one would have known for hours until somebody could run back to a place with coverage. VR should stay in the half marathon lane. They are good at it.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    2pugdogmom REPEAT RUNNER '21

    The difficult rating is spot on! Definitely a butt-kicker but worth the burn. VR never disappoints in course selection or scenery. The first 3 miles on a gravel road was … MORE

    The difficult rating is spot on! Definitely a butt-kicker but worth the burn. VR never disappoints in course selection or scenery. The first 3 miles on a gravel road was ok and the rest is on nicely paved road. Miles 5 – 8 were up, up, and up. I walked those miles and most everyone around me did as well. Mile 8 started a great downhill section that was a welcome respite. One last hill at mile 11.5 and then down to the finish line in Keystone. The pacers were great and really helped on the hills and ultimately finishing in my desired time. VR always has plenty of great snacks in a nice to go box when you finish so that you don’t have to eat right away and can try some great products later. I loved that there was a festival in Keystone on race day. It made for a great day enjoying the town after the race!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5
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    kbuck2 FIRST-TIMER '21

    They weren't joking by labeling this course "difficult." The ~1,800 ft of elevation gain hits you right away and continues until around mile 8 when you finally get the bliss … MORE

    They weren’t joking by labeling this course “difficult.” The ~1,800 ft of elevation gain hits you right away and continues until around mile 8 when you finally get the bliss of running downhill. One more big climb around 11.5 before the downhill finish. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to walk in a race, but my friend and I started run-walking around 1.5 miles. By far the hardest race I’ve ever run, but it was still fun. And I was proud to finish within 30 minutes of my half marathon PR time on such a tough course.

    Some logistical issues the morning of the race with more people trying to shuttle to the start line than there was room for in the buses, but the VR team got it handled and the race started on time.

    Overall, a great race. Fun weekend. And can’t wait to do another Vacation Races race next year!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
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    hmcculloch REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This race was absolutely gorgeous but DANG was it hard! The 7.5 miles uphill to start were rough and then pair that with the elevation? I struggled. I definitely didn’t … MORE

    This race was absolutely gorgeous but DANG was it hard! The 7.5 miles uphill to start were rough and then pair that with the elevation? I struggled. I definitely didn’t hit my best nor my goal…but I’m glad to have participated!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    michroberts4 FIRST-TIMER '21

    Loved the race! This was my 3rd with Vacation Races and definitely won’t be the last. The course was very hilly but there were great views and you could even … MORE

    Loved the race! This was my 3rd with Vacation Races and definitely won’t be the last. The course was very hilly but there were great views and you could even see Mount Rushmore from a distance. Lots of tunnels and corkscrews on the course, which was fun!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    [email protected] REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This is not a race for people looking for a casual Sunday stroll but the views and community are worth the strain. Well run amd enjoyable race experience. MORE

    This is not a race for people looking for a casual Sunday stroll but the views and community are worth the strain. Well run amd enjoyable race experience.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    srodriguez211 FIRST-TIMER '21

    Spectacular views, great people! Course is very challenging, but that was to be expected and appreciated. There are also amazing opportunities nearby to explore state and national parks! After this … MORE

    Spectacular views, great people! Course is very challenging, but that was to be expected and appreciated. There are also amazing opportunities nearby to explore state and national parks! After this race, I can’t wait to do another in the Vacation Race portfolio! It may be my new race obsession!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    spinegar07 FIRST-TIMER '21

    Wow! This race kicked my butt, BUT it was so worth it! Insane elevation that made for spectacular views. A few snaffus getting runners to the race start, but other … MORE

    Wow! This race kicked my butt, BUT it was so worth it! Insane elevation that made for spectacular views. A few snaffus getting runners to the race start, but other than that, it was stellar!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3
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  1. Races
  2. Mount Rushmore Half Marathon