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When to go

Wadsworth, Ohio
posts: 51
reviews: 1
When to go

I wasn't sure where to post this since it covers 3 states. Looks like we have the first 3 weeks in June (1st through 22nd) to visit (coming from OH) SD, CO, and WY. I know the popular season in RMNP is mid-June through mid-August. Are there any pros or cons as to which state to do first? We want to do the following:

1) SD: Badlands Nat'l Park, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Crazy Horse, then Devils Tower WY.

2) CO: Red Rock Ampitheater, Pikes Peak Cog RR, Peak to Peak drive, RMNP, Mesa Verde Nat'l Park.

We'll have 2 little ones (3yrs & 4yrs) so we'll have to plan some kids activities along the way. I was thinking about starting in SD, up to WY then down to CO. Any thoughts? TIA

Rockford, Illinois...
posts: 187
1. Re: When to go

The only time I would say is not good for the SD part of your trip would be early August when the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is - unless you are on a bike and going to the rally.

On the drive to SD, I would suggest stopping at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN. It is a very clean nice stop with some nice interactive displays. It is a great place to get out of the car and stretch your legs.

I would also recommend stopping at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, as the falls are very nice.

The Corn Palace is not too exciting, but I feel it is worth at least driving to and looking at it.

Also, stop at Wall Drug to say that you have been there. It is a great place to stretch out after seeing the Badlands.

I would think the kids would like Old MacDonald's farm just outside of Rapid City. My kids, 11 and 7, loved seeing the baby animals and being able to pet lambs, goats and calves. Go early in your trip, as you get in for 3 days for a single price of admission.

For scenic drives – I would recommend adding in Iron Mountain Road, and Spearfish Canyon.

Once in the Black Hills of South Dakota almost every hotel and gas station have a single page map of the Black Hills that is great. It shows where waterfalls are off Spreafish Canyon and where the lookout tower's are too.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,687
reviews: 279
2. Re: When to go

Are you going to be driving? Since this covers multiple states might want to post on road trip forum- but since I post on both I will go ahead and give you some insight- here is link to road trip forum-


Lots of kid friendly activities in the Black Hills- check out the online travel guide- here is the link-


Bear country, reptile garden, water slides, Old McDonald farm, etc.

If driving I would do Badlands, then Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer SP- stay in Hill City or Keystone or Custer SP.

Then drive to Devils Tower and back to RMNP, driving Trail Ridge Dr. and the Peak to Peak Hwy. You can detour by Red Rocks on way to Colorado Springs- it is just west of Denver.

Then hit the freeway and head to Colorado Springs for Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.

If you want to include Mesa Verde NP then it would be about a 6 hour drive to the SW corner of Colorado. Mesa Verde NP is close to Durango and you will find the Durango historic RR there, the San Juan Mts. and other activities.

Hope this info gets you started with your planning and if you have other questions please let us know.

Edited: 6:28 pm, September 06, 2012
Wadsworth, Ohio
posts: 51
reviews: 1
3. Re: When to go

Thanks Mike N, I forgot about Spearfish Canyon and Iron Mtn. road. I've heard of the Corn Palace and saw a program on TV about it, while it was interesting, I'm not sure about stopping there. It sorta falls in the catagory of the worlds largest ball of twine, which my hubby would enjoy seeing, but I'm not so thrilled, lol

Wadsworth, Ohio
posts: 51
reviews: 1
4. Re: When to go

Thanks PeachBelle828, I didn't know about the road trip forum. And all the other suggestions.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,687
reviews: 279
5. Re: When to go

Spearfish Canyon and the Iron Mt. Rd. are both excellent recommendations. You can drive the Iron Mt. Rd when leaving Mt. Rushmore and heading to Custer SP.

You can drive thru Spearfish Canyon on your way to Devils Tower.

In Custer SP eat lunch at either State Game Lodge or Blue Bell Lodge- they have a delicious buffet with homemade pies.

posts: 370
reviews: 211
6. Re: When to go

This is just my opinion, but I would try and go to Yellowstone and Grand Teton sooner than later. The best part of being there early is less traffic. Keep in mind lodging in the park may already be very, very busy if not booked up completely. If you are not camping, then West Yellowstone may be a good option (if lodging is booked up).

Mesa Verde is far from a lot of the other places. If it's a must, then do it, if not, save it for a Utah/Arizona/New Mexico trip. Add Sand Dunes National Monument to your itinerary when you do M.V.

I have traveled out there a few times (going back in April-May). Keep in mind Colorado gets WARM n DRY first. If that bothers you, then maybe you do that sooner. Wyoming is the more fun than Colorado (imo) and with all the wildlife of Yellowstone I would give that the priority then plan other things around that.

7. Re: When to go

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