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Any Last Minute Intinerary Advice???

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Lincoln, Nebraska
posts: 5
reviews: 1
Any Last Minute Intinerary Advice???

Hello Everyone!

Well we're officially less than one week away from our big trip to South Dakota and couldn't be more excited. I've been on these forums a lot these past couple months and gotten a ton of valuable information. This is the first big road trip for my family so I thought I would post our preliminary itinerary to see if anyone has any last minute advice for us. I will be traveling from Lincoln, NE with my 6 1/2 month pregnant wife and soon to be 3 year old son. We are spending 7 days and 6 nights on this trip. We have two different cabins reserved for the trip. We want to try and see everything we can, but at the same time find time to relax. Ok, so here is our itinerary so far.

Day 1 - Our big driving day. Going to see some of the sights in Nebraska on our way up to South Dakota and stop about 3/4 the way for the night.

Day 2 - Only have about 3 1/2 hours of driving. Will stop for groceries on our way to Hill City. Our cabin is just north of there and we can't check in till later. Thinking about going to Pactola Lake and spend the day around there till we can check in. Might fish if I decide to bring the gear.

Day 3 - It will be my son's birthday so we are gearing the day towards him. Heading to Rapid City where we will go to a combination of these places: Storybrook Island, Reptile Gardens, Bear Country, Old McDonald's Farm, and Watiki Water Park. We probably won't have time, or the energy, to go to all these places. Will probably have one meal in Rapid City. I've read that Firehouse Brewing Co, Tally's Silver Spoon, and Murphy's Pub and Grill would be good places to eat.

Day 4 - My son loves trains so he and I will be doing the one way 1880 train trip from Hill City to Keystone while my wife drives. Will spend some time in Keystone seeing the town. Might do the chairlift and the Alpine Slide. Might try and eat at the Powder House Lodge and/or Big Time Pizza. In the evening we are planning on doing Iron Mtn Road to Mount Rushmore. Might stay for the lighting ceremony.

Day 5 - Check out of cabin #1. Other cabin is near Custer. Will probably hit up Crazy Horse Memorial and Flintstone Park that day.

Day 6 - Custer State Park - Getting up early and doing the wildlife loop and Sylvan Lake. Will probably spend the rest of the time relaxing at the cabin.

Day 7 - Check out of our cabin. On our way back to Nebraska I'm thinking about going through the Badlands. Not sure the next time we would ever be up this way again so I think we should stop when we have the chance. How long does seeing it take? We would want to get out at a few of the stops it has, but not all.

I would appreciate any advice you have. Our trip can't come fast enough!

Thank you!!!

3 replies to this topic
Sioux Falls, South...
Destination Expert
for Sioux Falls
posts: 1,910
reviews: 129
1. Re: Any Last Minute Intinerary Advice???

Hi. Here are my opinionated thoughts:

-You know your route so you know Day 1 and 2 best.

-You are right that Day 3 is way too full. Spread some of these things out or pick and choose. Does your three year old still nap? That's another thing to keep in mind when planning your schedule. I'd do Bear Country first so he doesn't fall asleep in the car and miss the baby bears at the end. Allow about two hours for Bear Country. Then an early lunch followed by the nap or Reptile Gardens. Allow a half day for Reptile Gardens. Play the late afternoon and evening by ear.

-Day 4: I'd try it like this: 10:00AM train (I'm assuming you have reservations). Will arrive around 11:00 in Keystone. Then do the Alpine Slide and lunch. You can hold your son on your lap and go down the slow lane if you want. Then do Rushmore. This is highly subject to opinion, but I think the lighting ceremony is going to let out too late for a preschooler, plus the Alpine Slide won't take long. It's fun, but $$$. So, I'd do Rushmore in the afternoon.

-Day 5: Try it like this: Crazy Horse, Sylvan Lake, Needles Highway. I wouldn't skip at least the first part of Needles Highway. At least go as far as the Cathedral Spires. The second half isn't as interesting. You'll want to see the needle with the hole in it, too. Your little guy could nap in the car. I'd skip Flintstones because most kids don't know who they are and it hasn't rated well in a long time.

-Day 6: Mt. Coolidge, Wildlife Loop, Iron Mountain Road south to north (maybe he could nap for this part?), Storybook Island.

-Day 7: You can whip through the main loop of the Badlands in about two hours, but three is much better.

There are a whole bunch of different ways to arrange this and others may have better suggestions.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,297
reviews: 35
2. Re: Any Last Minute Intinerary Advice???

Your itinerary isn't bad at all and is truly geared toward your son.

On your Rapid CIty day, I would plan on doing no more than 2-3 of the places you have listed. Maybe get your son's input and base it on what he enjoys??

I agree to not do the lighting ceremony. You won't want to be driving that late at night so you can avoid a wildlife encounter.

On your Keystone day, I would eat lunch at Big Time Pizza. It's a bit more family friendly than Powder House Lodge.

Finally, don't miss the Badlands, They are a true gem of the area, and your son could climb on some of the mountains with close supervision. Three hours of tour time will enable you to see quite a bit.

Have a wonderful time, and let us know if we can assist further.

Lincoln, Nebraska
posts: 5
reviews: 1
3. Re: Any Last Minute Intinerary Advice???

Thank you both for the replies. We can't wait for the trip!!!

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