Is there an itinerary somewhere online of a road trip from Indianapolis to Badlands/Mt. Rushmore to Yellowstone ?
My suggestion would be to post this on the road trips forum on this site. However, please include many more details, particularly your trip length. I realize everyone has a different travel style, but I would not consider a trip such as this unless you have at least 2 weeks, preferably more. Many can spend more than a week in Yellowstone alone, where there' s lots of ground to cover. I find that many try to cram in both the Black Hills and Yellowstone in a very short time frame, and there's just too much to see. Hopefully, you will have the time to both areas justice.
We did this same trip but beginning from central Ohio instead.
We left after work one evening to get the trip started. It is approximately 18 hours drive time for us to Rapid City. We started traveling in the evening, drove till we got tired. Next day was a long one and made it all the way to Chamberlain, SD. We covered 16 hours of driving in that day and 1/2. IMO the trip across the plains states is boring and we wanted to just "get there' :)
From Chamberlain to the Badlands is only a couple of hours. Stopped by corn palace in Mitchell just for fun. Drove thru the Badlands in part waiting for our tour of the Minuteman Missile site there at the Badlands. Need reservations to do that, by the way. Took the tour, then finished up the Badlands park that afternoon. Stopped by Wall Drug "just because" before heading to Keystone for the night. Spend the next full day in Custer State park. My favorite place in the area. The next day we hit Mt Rushmore in the am, Crazy Horse and then back to Rushmore for the evening ceremony. We found 2 days adequate for the area for what we wanted to see. Not all feel that way--
Headed out early morning towards Cody. Stopped at Devils Tower. Got into Cody by 5 that evening. Rodeo that evening, but we decided to pass and just laze around :) One night in Cody. There are some great museums in Cody, but museums are not our thing. One night in Cody was enough for us.
Headed into YNP the next morning-- took the east entrance in (about an hour from Cody) Spent 1 night at the Snow lodge to explore the thermals, then 3 nights in a western cabin in the canyon area. Great spot from which to explore the park. You are right near Hayden Valley to scope for wildlife mornings and evenings.
Followed up with 2 nights at Colter Bay in the Tetons.
From the Tetons across Wyoming stopping at South Pass CIty and Independence Rock. Stopped for Laramie for the night.
Up early again and headed to Estes Park. Stayed 2 nights in Estes and explored Rocky Mtn Natl Park.
Headed home across 70 to take a different route home.
All total-- we spent 2 nights on the road getting to the Rushmore area-- 3 nights at Keystone (could've used only 2 since we got to the Badlands so early) 1 night in Cody, 4 in YNP, 2 in the Tetons, 1 in Laramie, 2 in Estes and then 2 on the road getting home.
Hope some of that helps?
Great advice by Wings and Slr. How long do you have? And what time of year? If you have the time I would add the drive into Yellowstone via Beartooth Pass and Lamar Valley.
yes-- the Beartooth Pass is one thing we did not do and regret it.
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