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Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

Which Custer hotels are on sale?
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Philadelphia...
posts: 16
reviews: 19
Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

Looking for advice on small tours for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time. Best time for weather and crowds. Suggestions on where to stay......Rapid City or Custer?

18 replies to this topic
Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,689
reviews: 279
1. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

Very easy to just drive yourself in the area. We like staying at K Bar S Lodge in Keystone. June-September is a good time to visit except first two weeks of August during Sturgis Bike Rally.

Order or go online and look at the travel planner for the Black Hills at-

www.travelsd.com

The DE is excellent and I am sure will give you great info.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,353
reviews: 35
2. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

I would probably recommend coming in early September. I have been in late August after the Sturgis rally and have had great weather and lighter crowds. Many places, lodging rates decrease also.

I don't recommend staying in Rapid City unless you are on a tight lodging budget. The most centrally located towns are Keystone, Hill City or Custer. I personally think Hill City might be a good fit for you. It's less touristy than Keystone and has more sophisticated shops. The Alpine Inn is a wonderful place to eat. The town is very walkable and pretty relaxing. The Holiday Inn Express gets pretty good reviews on here and looks very nice from the outside.

Definitely order the travel planner Peach mentioned. It will give you a great feel for the area.

Feel free to ask additional questions.

Banff National...
posts: 1,458
reviews: 16
3. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

slrtravelplan couldn't have said it better...Quality Inn in Hill City another nice place to stay.Rates do drop off a lot after Labor Day and weather usually nice,

Alpine Inn and the Lighting Ceremony at Mt Rushmore not to be missed.

Edited: 5:15 pm, January 05, 2013
Philadelphia...
posts: 16
reviews: 19
4. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

Thanks for your help. We are from PA also! Infact we have family on Luzerne. Did you fly into rapid city ? Someone told me it was better to fly to Gillette WY and drive to SD from there?Did you use any tours while there? Anything else you can tell us would be appreciated.

Banff National...
posts: 1,458
reviews: 16
5. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

We drive from Pa and we will be here again in Hill City the end of Sep for the umpteenth time. You are better off driving in SD,don't know of any tours.

There is plenty to see here and nearby.Custer State Park,Crazy Horse Monument, Borglum museum,drive the Needles highway, Iron Mountain road,

Corn Palace,Wall Drugs,Badlands, Deadwood and on and on.

Beautiful country here and Sep the best time to visit. Have to rent a car after flying in.Never flew in always drove so can't advice on where to fly in to.

Best time in Sep right after Labor Day, lodging rates drop like a rock.

We always stayed at the Holiday Inn or the Quality Inn (formerly Comfort Inn), here in Hill City.By the way we live 5 miles from Luzerne.

You will have a fabulous visit here in the beautiful Black Hills of S.D.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,353
reviews: 35
6. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

Dilly,

I'm not far from Philly here in south Jersey. Rapid City is the closest airport to fly into, but unfortunately, it's not the cheapest. Airfares and car rentals tend to be expensive. Rapid is a nice small airport and very easy to fly in and out of. Honestly, I didn't know Gillette had an airport, so I can't comment there. It is closer to the area than some places, only about 2.5 hours away.

I just did a search on Orbitz and found that the airfare from Philly to Rapid is actually a little cheaper than flying to Gillette. I didn't check car rental fees there.

From this area, Denver is probably the cheapest option, but you will have about a 6 hour drive to the Black Hills.

I totally agree with Joe to not use a tour group. It's easy to get around, and I think it's better to go at your pace rather than someone else's. A relatively recent thread included an opinion to use a tour for seeing Custer State Park due to driving the twisty, winding roads (Iron Mt. Rd and Needles Hwy). IMO, if you take your time and drive slowly, you will be fine. You will want to take your time anyway because the area is so scenic.

If you had your heart absolutely set on a tour, here's a link to some companies that operate in in the area:

www.blackhillsvacations.com/activities/tours/

I had a friend who used Gray Line and liked it, but it was probably at least 5 years ago.

Let us know if we can help further.

Philadelphia...
posts: 16
reviews: 19
7. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

My husband actually works in Birmingham NJ. Where did you stay when you visited? The only reason I was looking into tours (small van) was that the hubbie doesn't like driving the twisty roads and we didn't want to miss anything. We were in Virginia City in September and took the switchback road from Reno. Quite an experience!!! Since this is our first and probably only trip to SD (planning to be there a week) I would love any advice you can supply. Thanks again.

Banff National...
posts: 1,458
reviews: 16
8. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

If you have a week, I would add 2 side trips, afew miles but well worth it,easy drives.

1. Hill City to Devils Tower National Park via Deadwood 42 miles to Deadwood

and another 77 to Devils Tower.

2. Hill City to the Badlands National Park via Wall Drug.

80 miles to Wall Drug and another 22 to Badlands.

At Wall drugs get a good coffee for 5 cents and maybe lunch.

Another day would be all day at Custer State Park via Needles highway and return by Iron Mountain Road. Driven slowly these 2 roads an experience in it self.Best part coming out of the tunnels on Iron Mountain Road and seeing Mt Rushmore in the distance.Stop for lunch and the State Game Lodge in the park and have a very $ reasonable excellent buffet for lunch.Buffalo stew delicious.

This would take up 3 days, leaving Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse,Borglum museum,the caves,for the remainder of the time.

Alpine Inn in Hill City closed on Sundays, no credit card, 6 & 9 oz fillets

for$8.99 and $10.99 and the best deserts in S.D. This and the night ceremony at Mt Rushmore not to be missed.

Quality Inn should be around $65 a night then.Before Labor Day $125.

This is how I spend my time when there,many,many times.

Bottom line dont worry about driving and add these 2 side trips if you can,especially if you are not coming back...

We will be there again in late Sep., wrapping up our annual trip out West.

Edited: 9:38 am, January 07, 2013
Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,353
reviews: 35
9. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

Great info from Joeman. The lunch buffet at the State Game Lodge gets rave reviews. We also like Blue Bell Lodge (great bison meatloaf!) also in Custer State Park. Bison is delicious! The Alpine is not to be missed. If you don't care for steak, check out their traditional German fare for lunch. Desserts are fabulous anytime!

If you enjoy wine, people say the Prairie Berry Winery is awesome. They also offer gourmet style lunches. This is on my list for a stop on our next trip! One of of our fellow posters enjoys the rhubarb wine.

We like the Roosevelt Inn in Keystone, but I personally recommended Hill City for you because I think it's less touristy and a bit more "couples oriented." Although both are suitable for families, I think Keystone offers a bit more for the younger set, including the Alpine Slide, mini golf, a boardwalk lined with souvenir shops, Big Thunder Gold Mine, and the Presidential Wax Museum. Both towns offer the 1880 Train.

Philadelphia...
posts: 16
reviews: 19
10. Re: Advice for 2 seniors visiting SD for the first time.

Thanks again for all your advice. Gives me things to plan.

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