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South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

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South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

Hi

We will be on vacation from the UK in September 2008 and would love to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse before carrying on to Utah.

South Dakota does not seem to have an international airport but I am presuming we will be able to get a flight to Rapid City?

Has anybody any hints of things to do enroute to Salt Lake.We will have 2 drivers so long drives can be shared?

Any hints to help start me off planning this trip.

Thanks

Roscoe

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Mount Rushmore Resort & Lodge
Mount Rushmore Resort...
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11. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

On the Wildlife Loop, you'll see most of the same wildlife from your car as you will see on a hike--and more of it from your car since you'll cover more ground. Elk is the exception. Rarely will you see an elk from the car but I've seen them several times on hikes in southern CSP. The elk really like to stay away from the roads.

The trails you can in the Wildlife Loop area include the Centennial Trail and the Prairie Trail loop. The French Creek nature area trail is also in the area but generally you don't see a lot of wildlife because it's a canyon bottom instead of hills and prairie. I would opt for a hike in northern Custer State Park like Cathedral Spires. Or perhaps a compromise in the middle with Lover's Leap. These trails will give you better scenery. You'll see the wildlife from the car. Or do both if you have time.

The trails in the northern portion of Custer State Park are also at a higher elevation which will make for cooler hiking in July.

Time of day: morning and evening are usually best but no time of day is bad.

Time: With stops at Blue Bell, Mt. Coolidge and the Wildlife Loop visitors center you're probably looking at four hours or so. Faster for some. You'll probably want to combine this with a stop at the Game Lodge, main visitor center, Coolidge store, Legion Lake and Stockade Lake. By the time you do all of that you're looking at a whole morning and part of an afternoon.

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Custer State Park
Custer State Park
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Custer, SD
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Pitman, New Jersey
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12. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

Hi Pat,

Chuckwagon dinners include a BBQ dinner which typically includes steak, burgers, potato salad, corn, etc. along with western entertainment. I believe the one leaving out of Custer Park takes you via wagon to a secluded canyon to enjoy your meal/show. We didn't have time to do a chuckwagon dinner, but we did hear they are quite fun. The entertainment includes music and comedy with a cowboy theme. There are some listed on the South Dakota tourism website.

Let us know if you think of anything else.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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13. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

My son was 10 when we went to the Black Hills. We were there for a few days in mid July. The Wildlife Loop was great fun. We saw bison, elk, deer and some wild (actually very tame) burros, who stuck their heads into the car looking for food!! We have some fun photos! We stopped at a number of turnouts and enjoyed the drive, we even had a picnic lunch. I think we spent about 3 hours total.

We also loved the cave tours, Jewel Cave was our favorite, but Wind Cave was also fun!

We also went to Wade's Gold Mill in Hill City and did some gold panning, actually got a few small flakes of gold. This was a great trip for us!

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The Black Hills
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14. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

Three of you are so generous with all information. I greatly appreciate your tremendous help.

Accommodator, we won't have time to hike all trails you described but Cathedral Spires are most intriguing.

slrtravelplanner, it looks like a chuck wagon dinner would be a nice way to end the day. Need to find more information.

CasaAzul, we have to decide which cave to visit but from your description it looks we should go to Jewel Cave. I just wonder if there is any way to compare Jewel Cave to Carlsbad Caverns. I realize they must be two completely different but in regard to size of a cave, size and number of stalactites and stalagmites. Just being curious.

Thank you one more time for all generous information you provided.

Pat

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Carlsbad
Carlsbad
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15. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

Hi Pat,

Just wanted to comment on the comparison of Carlsbad and Jewel Caves. I have not visited Carlsbad but know friends who have and have seen pictures. Although not an exceptionally long cave, Carlsbad has some very grand formations. My friend who visited said if you have a camera you could spend hours in their great room snapping away. From your post, I assume you have been there?

Jewel is second longest in the world as far as discovered miles of passages, second only to Mammoth in Kentucky. I agree with Casa; I enjoyed Jewel's tour a bit more than Wind, but if you have time, both are very worthwhile.

Jewel has some very nice formations and is a very OPEN cave. The rooms we saw were large and had many stalactites and stalagmites. The cave has a wonderful bacon formation which was the highlight for me. Based on pictures I have seen and my friend's descriptions, I would say Carlsbad's formations are grander, but Jewel really is a great cave. I know some people say all caves are the same, but I really think you can find unique things in all of them if you are willing to look hard enough.

Wind Cave is known for a formation called boxwork, which resembles spider webs. It has one room that is absolutely loaded with these formations, and they were interesting to see. Wind is a bit more closed in than Jewel; one man on our tour had to leave because he felt claustrophobic, but we had no difficulties at all. We didn't find the tours we took at either cave that strenuous.

Also noteworthy is that Wind Cave is a national park and Jewel Cave is a national monument. Wind does have some surface activities like wildlife viewing, but Jewel does not. You will be going during prime tourist season, so advance cave tour reservations (as Accomodator mentioned previously) will be helpful to avoid long waits. We visited Jewel on a rainy day and had to wait about 1.5 hours to take the tour. Thank goodness for the Junior Ranger Program which kept our daughter entertained.

You can go on nps.gov to see the websites for both caves and take a sneak peak at the formations. They will also have tour info listed.

Keep those questions coming. :)

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16. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

Thank you slrtravelplanner for more details. I bet we are going to have a great visit because of people like you, CasaAzul, and Accommodator.

I googled on chuckwagon dinners and all came up are big gatherings. It sounds like diners are coming sometimes by buses which means crowds. Did any of you ever hear of small, more intimate chuckwagon dinners? Or maybe I'm missing a point and these dinners involve crowds, noise and gathering with many, many other people? I saw some pictures and they showing crowds.

Pitman, New Jersey
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17. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

Hi Pat,

Here's a link for one of the dinners in Rapid City in case you haven't seen it:

vacationsmadeeasy.com/GreaterMountRushmoreAr…

I think they could be crowded at peak times. We saw a group heading out from Custer St. Park (Blue Bell Lodge), and there were several people, but it didn't look insanely crowded. Maybe someone else could respond who has actually participated in one. I know our hotel strongly recommended them, but we really weren't sure if it was something we really wanted to do. We aren't that into western music/entertainment. We would rather take the time to check out the scenery, but I'm sure some would find the chuckwagon dinners fun and interesting depending on likes.

I'm sorry I haven't been as helpful on this one. Hopefully someone else can help you out more. I was thinking maybe you could post a new thread regarding these dinners and possibly get more help. One thing to remember is what Accomodator said. The Black Hills really don't have crazy crowds like Disney World. The area is open enough and spread out enough that I don't think you will feel "cramped."

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18. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

slrtravelplanner, thank you for the link and don't worry, you are so helpful every time. Got to go and check the link you posted.

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19. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

Jewel Cave is a great cave to visit. It was similar to Carlsbad Caverns, but not as huge!

Carlsbad Caverns is an incredible place to visit. So much to see and you can hike in the Natural Entrance without a tour and see what you want. We loved it.

Jewel Cave was similar in many aspects, yet very different. We really enjoyed the tour but next time I'd like to see more. Maybe a lantern tour.

Jewel Cave was more like Carlsbad than Wind Cave.

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20. Re: South Dakota to Salt Lake via Wyoming

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