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Yet another itinerary question ;)

Washington DC...
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Yet another itinerary question ;)

Can you stand yet another request for help with a South Dakota itinerary? ;)

About us: We are a family of five who are all reasonably fit and active. Our kids are 8, 12, and 14. We are spending the summer on a cross country road trip. Since we are on an extended trip, we need to have some "down" time to take care of necessities like laundry, groceries, bill paying etc.

We like nature, science, and history. Usually our hikes are in the 5-mile or less range, but we can go up to about 8 - 10 miles for something really special. We also need to hit as many National Park Service sites (parks, monuments, etc) as possible. I would like to fit in the Big Thunder Gold Mine near Keystone. Where should I put that? Since we are spending 8 days in Yellowstone later in the trip, how much time should I devote to the Wildlife Loop? I'm guessing the kids' patience for riding in the car for a scenic drive will be close to zero by this point of the trip.

We will be in South Dakota for 9 days in mid- to late-June. Here is the itinerary so far:

Day 1: Drive to De Smet from Walnut Grove, MN (~2-ish hours) and tour the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites in town. Camp in the Lake Thompson Recreation Area near De Smet

Day 2: Drive from De Smet to Badlands NP (5.5 hours drive), set up camp at the Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands NP, explore park as time and energy permit

Day 3: Minuteman Missile Site in the morning (have tickets for 10:00 am tour), Wall Drug, and more time exploring Badlands NP in the afternoon. Camp at Cedar Pass again.

(Stay at Big Pine Campground near Custer for the rest our stay)

Day 4: Drive to Custer, SD; hit Walmart in Rapid City to resupply food etc; set up camp at Big Pine Campground in Custer; spend the rest of the day on "housekeeping" (laundry, checking in with work, etc)

Day 5: Wind Cave at opening, Mammoth Site in the afternoon

Day 6: Mount Rushmore, drive by Crazy Horse monument, Rushmore Tramway alpine slide, Chuckwagon Dinner Show at Palmer Gulch

Day 7: Jewel Cave at opening, Sylvan Lake, Needles Hwy

Day 8: Custer State Park (hikes?), horseback riding at Blue Bell Stables

Day 9: Leave Custer and move onto Devil's Tower, Camp near Devil's Tower at Belle Fourche Campground. Move on to the Wyoming portion of our trip.

Does this sound reasonable? Are there things I should add, delete or rearrange? Thank you so much for your advice and input!

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1. Re: Yet another itinerary question ;)

Day 8: I think the view from Black Elk Peak is spectacular! That would be my first choice for a hike.

Have a great journey!

Arlington, Virginia
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for Arlington
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2. Re: Yet another itinerary question ;)

+1 for the hike up Black Elk Peak (formerly known as Harney Peak, so that's the name some of your resources may use.)

South Dakota
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3. Re: Yet another itinerary question ;)

Your itinerary question is fine. It's the ones that say, "We're coming to the Black Hills, what should we see?" that are a bit irksome.

I think days 1-3 are perfect. I think you could insert Big Thunder anywhere on days 4-8 that fits your schedule. Those days are lighter.

I know the kids will be tired of drives, but Iron Mountain Road south to north is not to be missed. You have enough time to spread it out with the other attractions. Also consider Bear Country or Reptile Gardens if your budget allows.

Allow 5 hours to hike Harney Peak. Go in the morning so you have plenty of daylight and beware of changing weather conditions at the top. Friends started the hike recently on a gorgeous day and ended up getting pelted with hail towards the top.

@ Longhorn, I like the way you addressed a sensitive subject. Much appreciated.

Have a fun trip.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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4. Re: Yet another itinerary question ;)

Yes, Black Elk or Harney Peak would be a great hike for you based on your self-description. I would recommend that for your day 8. If you find your energy level is spent after that, you could always move your horseback riding possibly to day 5.

I would move your drive-by of Crazy Horse to day 7 just so it makes logical sense directionally. This will open up time for the Gold Mine since you will be in Keystone.

Are you interested in the lighting ceremony at Rushmore? If so, you could fit it just about any of your evenings. Maybe on your "housekeeping day??" By that time, hopefully the work will be done. Just be very careful going back to your campsite at night. You could also drive the Wildlife Loop this day. You will find animals unique to the area that you won't find in Yellowstone. They include the wild burros and prairie dogs. One evening devoting an hour or 2 is a great.

I think your plans sound very reasonable since you said you really don't enjoy being crazy busy. If you find you have some time in the evenings, you could always make your way to some of Rapid City's kid friendly attractions such as Reptile Gardens, Bear Country, and maybe Cosmos Mystery Area. I would play it by ear.

Have a wonderful trip. It sounds like you will being seeing many amazing places.

United States
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5. Re: Yet another itinerary question ;)

The trail up to the peak is still called Harney Peak Trail per Google maps.

Washington DC...
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6. Re: Yet another itinerary question ;)

Thank you all so much for your input! I truly appreciate it. :)

Omaha, NE
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7. Re: Yet another itinerary question ;)

What a rockin' trip you have planned! Good luck! Your kids are lucky. ;)

8. Re: Yet another itinerary question ;)

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