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Best Homebase

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Voorhees, New Jersey
posts: 13
reviews: 53
Best Homebase

We will be spending a few nights in the area and wondering if we should stay in Rapid City or another area. The plan is to spend a day in the Badlands and a second day visiting Mt Rushmore. All suggestions are welcomed. Thanks

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,687
reviews: 279
1. Re: Best Homebase

The most central area of the Black Hills is Keystone and Hill City. The towns are smaller and closer to Custer State Park which is also a must see imo in the Black Hills as well as Mt. Rushmore.

Rapid City is nice but a bigger city!!!

We like the K Bar S Lodge in Keystone while the DE likes the Roosevelt Inn.

Banff National...
posts: 1,457
reviews: 16
2. Re: Best Homebase

WOW..not enough time...........Only 1 day in the incredible Black Hills..too bad.... yet coming all the way from N.J.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,353
reviews: 35
3. Re: Best Homebase

Hello Jersey Neighbor,

I'm from Pitman, so you are very close by.

I agree on all counts! The best bases are Keystone, Hill City or Custer. I am guessing you are on your way to another destination and possibly stopping off at the Black Hills on the way?

Many don't realize all the Black Hills has to offer; they think it's all about Mt Rushmore and not much else. You can easily spend a week exploring and still not see it all. If you can allot a bit more time, it would help.

Are you flying or driving? If you are driving, see the Badlands on your way in to the area. Even if you fly, if you catch an early enough flight, you'd have time to head to the Badlands once you land and work your way back. This will help maximize your time.

On your 2nd day, you should, at minimum, drive Iron Mt. Rd, which is part of Custer State Park from south to north so you can see Mt. Rushmore framed in tunnels. Spend a couple of hours seeing the monument by day. You could then see as much of Custer State Park as time allows, including the Wildlife Loop, Sylvan Lake and the Needles Hwy.

If you can allot more days to the area, please let us know, and we will make more suggestions to you. To get a good feel for the area, be sure to order a travel planner at travelsd.com.

Let us know if we can assist further.

Voorhees, New Jersey
posts: 13
reviews: 53
4. Re: Best Homebase

Thanks for the advice. We will be flying into Rapid City in late June. The plan is to spend 2 or 3 days in that area and then start driving to Yellowstone. We were able to get 2 nights in Lake Yellowstone Hotel. If there is time we would like to visit Devil's Tower and drive the Beartooth highway on the way to Yellowstone. The final stop will be Jackson Hole. Is this plan too ambitious?

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,353
reviews: 35
5. Re: Best Homebase

How much total time do you have for your trip? I am fearing you are trying to cram all 3 areas (Black Hills, Jackson, and Yellowstone) into a week. This is a common problem when people plan trips like these. Many incorporate Yellowstone and the Black Hills and really underestimate the time it takes to see these places adequately. Ideally a trip like this one takes 2-3 weeks.

Two nights in Yellowstone is also really way too little time, unfortunately. The park is huge...think of the size of the state of Delaware.

With what appears to be really too little time, I'd focus on getting to Yellowstone rather than hitting Devil's Tower and the Beartooth. Both are amazing attractions, but Yellowstone trumps it all and needs adequate touring time.

I don't mean to sound discouraging, but I do think your plan does sound way too ambitious. It will help somewhat if you are flying out of Jackson back home, but I would imagine you will have high drop off fees with your rental car if you are returning to a different place.

Let us know if you have additional questions.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,687
reviews: 279
6. Re: Best Homebase

Yellowstone is huge- the size of the states of Delaware and Rhode Island. Glad you did get 2 nights in the park but you could really used more time- keep checking for cancellations and try and get another night at Old Faithful or in West Yellowstone just outside the park at the west entrance.

I agree with slrtravelplanner that in order to maximize your time in YNP then skip Devils Tower and driving the Beartooth. We had been to Yellowstone three times before we had time to drive the Beartooth.

How many days are you staying in Jackson? Hope you will spend some time in the Grand Tetons. The mountains are beautiful and so is the Snake River.

Are you flying into Rapid City and out of Jackson? Hope you have checked one way car rentals because they can cause quite a shock because they are so expensive.

If you will post your trip plan we will be glad to take a look at it. Have been to Yellowstone multiple times in the past 5 years and going again in September.

Voorhees, New Jersey
posts: 13
reviews: 53
7. Re: Best Homebase

We have 10 days planned for this vacation. We are flying into Rapid City and out of Jackson. Car rentals are expensive but not horrible. Thanks for all of your advice. It looks like I should rethink this itinerary.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 16,687
reviews: 279
8. Re: Best Homebase

Let us know if we can help in any way and good luck!!!

Banff National...
posts: 1,457
reviews: 16
9. Re: Best Homebase

If i were in your shoes, my plan would start out like this: how it ends only you know..

4 nights in Black Hills

1 night in Cody (stop at Devils Tower on way to Cody via Bighorn mountains)

3 nights in Yellowstone via very scenic East end entrance (see Tetons on way to Jackson)

remainder of time in Jackson, with another visit to the Tetons(short drive)

I hope this will help you in your planning.

Hill City is where we always stay when visiting here and dine there at the fabulous Alpine Inn

We will be back here again, visiting same places you will be visiting, on our drive back to Pa in September...Never enough time out here in this gorgeous area...

Edited: 8:58 am, April 25, 2013
Rockford, Illinois...
posts: 187
10. Re: Best Homebase

For a home base in the Black Hills area, I would recommend that you read the reviews here on TA and select the hotel you most want to stay at. I would look at Keystone, Hill City and also Rapid City. The last 2 years our summer vacation has been to the Black Hills. The first year we stayed in Deadwood, and I do feel it was too far north. The second year we stayed in Rapid City and really liked it. We did like having a Wal Mart and full grocery store close by to get picnic supplies and other things we needed. Rapid City is not as central to the Black Hills, but when you add in a trip to the Badlands it becomes more central.

What time do you arrive into Rapid City, as you may be able to hit the Badlands on your arrival day? You can do the badlands in ½ day, unless you plan on stopping a lot and hiking around.

Besides the Badlands and Mt Rushmore, I would recommend you take in the scenic drives. The Wildlife loop in Custer SP, Needles Hwy, Iron Mountain Road and Spearfish Canyon are all excellent. I would recommend you pass through Spearfish Canyon on your way to Devils Tower.

There are a ton of neat things to do in the Black Hills, so depending on how long you end up staying it will determine how many things you can do. Also, if you are interested in horseback riding get reservations way early.