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First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

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Orlando, Florida
posts: 807
reviews: 2
First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

We are a family of 4 with 2 pre-teens.

We are planning our 1st visit to Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone Nat'l Park for our stay from December 15-December 24 in South Dakota.

1) Is this a good time to visit?

2) where do you suggest we fly in that is centrally located?

3) what city do you suggest we stay in that would be centrally-located for our visit to the areas?

4) can you suggest an itinerary for our stay?

Many thanks and looking to your suggestions and feedback.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
posts: 7,922
reviews: 26
1. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

Snow and road closures could play into your travel dates. Have you researched that?

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 679
reviews: 12
2. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

Although I have never been to Yellowstone during the winter months, the Black Hills is gorgeous in the winter. However, depending on your expectations, visiting the Black Hills in December is probably not the most ideal time, especially if this if your first time visiting the area. Are you hoping to visit the attractions in the Black Hills or are you hoping to ski or snowmobile? The major attractions, such as Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer State Park will be open but many others will not be. Shorter hours are usually common during the winter months also. The Needles Highway in Custer State Park is usually closed for the winter and depending on weather, Iron Mountain Road and other routes also maybe closed. Providing the Hills have received snow, the northern Black Hills does have skiing and great snowmobile trails. Last year snow was not as good as the two previous years. Rapid City would be the closest airport. If planning on coming to ski and snowmobile, Lead, Deadwood or Spearfish would be the best places to stay. For all other attractions Keystone, Hill City the town of Custer or State Game Lodge in Custer State Park would be the best places to lodge.

Summer and early fall months you will find all the attractions open. September and early October is a beautiful time to visit. Crowds are down, attractions still open and fall colors usually peak the first week in October. The Custer State Park's Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival, held this year Sept. 22nd - 24th, is a very unique and a once in a lifetime experience. If this interests you take a look at the website.

…sd.gov/state-parks/…buffalo-roundup.aspx

Edited: 12:48 am, July 30, 2012
Orlando, Florida
posts: 807
reviews: 2
3. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

thanks so much for the reply.

with snow and road closures in mind, we'll have to re-arrange these plans for next summer.

However, is it possible to do both Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore and area attractions within a 10-12 day vacation span?

what are the key must-see and must-do in terms of attractions in these 2 areas and can these be covered within this given timeframe?

thanks.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,174
reviews: 256
4. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

I would plan to go in mid June next year- less crowds and lots of wildlife babies and good weather.

Here is a link to travel guide for the Black Hills-

www.travelsd.com

Here is a link to must sees for Yellowstone NP-

http://yellowstone.net/intro/top-10/

If you want to stay in YNP then need to call Xanterra this year to make reservations for next year. Most people split time between Old Faithful and Lake or Canyon area. If you want TV and internet, etc. then gateway town of West Yellowstone is good for YNP and Jackson Hole is good for GTNP.

Here is an example of what we've done before-

Day 1- fly to Denver early and drive to Black Hills

Day 2-3- Black Hills- Badlands NP, Custer SP, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Deadwood (this area is very compact and can see a lot in a short period of time)

Day 4- drive to Cody with a stop in Devils Tower- great museums and rodeo

Day 5-6-7-8- Yellowstone NP- Jr. ranger program for kids, chuckwagon dinner, horseback riding, lots of things to see and do

Day 8-10- Grand Tetons NP- float trip on Snake River

Day 11- drive to Denver

Day 12- fly home

The reason I suggested Denver is cost is less and you avoid high one way car rental rates if fly into one airport and out of another.

Hope this info helps!!!

Orlando, Florida
posts: 807
reviews: 2
5. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

this is great, peachbelle.

*

How long is the drive from Denver to the blackhills?

what do the Blackhills consist of?

*

With respect to flying, we will use our miles with Delta. So it won't be a problem landing at an airport close to Mt Rushmore area or YNP, as we'd like to minimize the amount of driving if we can control that..

Please advise and thanks.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,174
reviews: 256
6. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

Denver to Black Hills is about a 6 1/2 hour drive.

Black Hills of SD- most people associate Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer SP, Deadwood and Badlands NP with the Black Hills.

Look at the link to the map and travel guide in earlier post.

If also doing Yellowstone you probably will not want to spend a lot of time in Custer SP imo.

If you want closer airports then a lot of people fly into Rapid City and out of Jackson Hole (edge of Grand Tetons). You can do this but be aware of the fact that you can face very expensive one way car rental fees. So before you make reservations research car rental fees- and make sure you get unlimited mileage and don't pay for an extra driver.

Orlando, Florida
posts: 807
reviews: 2
7. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

thanks again Peachbelle.

*

Why flying in and out of different airports?

wouldn't it make more sense to fly in/out of Rapid City, SD or Jackson Hole, WY?

what is the distance from Rapid City to parts of yellowstone?

Thanks much. all!!!

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,174
reviews: 256
8. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

It is a full days drive from Rapid City to Yellowstone national park- about 9 hours. From Jackson Hole to Rapid City it is about a 10 hour drive.

What might make sense for you from here on east coast is to fly in and out of Billings, MT. It is closer to Rapid City/Black Hills (will take a little over 5 hours) and only about 2 1/2 hours from YNP.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
posts: 7,922
reviews: 26
9. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

>>>With respect to flying, we will use our miles with Delta. So it won't be a problem landing at an airport close to Mt Rushmore area or YNP<<<

Good luck with that! I have a lot of DL miles with elite status and still cannot use them the way I'd like to without booking a ticket for 40k or 60k miles. The days of 25k tickets are seemingly over with DL. So if you have a lot of miles and don't mind using them at max levels, you should be able to book whatever you wish . . . especially for 4 of you.

Edited: 9:08 am, July 30, 2012
Orlando, Florida
posts: 807
reviews: 2
10. Re: First-Timers: Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone in December.

we just came from a 3-week vacation in Hawaii and we visited 3 islands...all on delta miles.

For 4 of us, it was cheaper than paying an arm and a leg as if we were going to Japan or China from Orflando.

Actually, Japan is only a 6.5 hr flight from Honolulu while it is a 10-hr flight from Orlando to Honolulu.

We don't mind using our miles at all...and yes, cheapest is 40,000 miles now.

And since we will land in Montana, anything interesting we can do there while visiting both YNP and the Black Hills?

thanks much!