We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

How much time to spend at a location

Danbury, Connecticut
Level Contributor
7 posts
15 reviews
Save Topic
How much time to spend at a location

My wife and I are planing a national parks trip in July. We will be flying into Kalispell, MT and driving our way through Montana, Wyoming, South and North Dakota. We will depart for home from Bismark, ND. We already have reservations in the Glacier and Yellowstone/ Grand Teton NP areas. From Yellowstone we plan to drive to Jackson and Casper, WY, the Mammoth Site, Wind Cave (or perhaps Jewell), Custer, Mt. Rushmore, Wall, Badlands, Minuteman II Missle Site, Deadwood and Theo Roosevelt NP. What I'm struggling with is how much time should I allocate for each attraction. My departure flight has not been set so I'm flexible. My current thinking is 5 days. Do you think that's sufficient? Did I miss anything? I've done some reading on Crazy Horse and have pretty much decided to skip it.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Monuments & Statues, National Parks
Black Hills National Forest
Nature & Wildlife Areas, National Parks, Forests
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Historic Sites, National Parks, History Museums
South Dakota
Level Contributor
4,552 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: How much time to spend at a location

First of all, if you haven't done so, check out the top question in the upper right corner entitled "Can I visit the Black Hills and Yellowstone in one trip?" This will answer some of your time frame questions.

Yes, five days is sufficient time to see the Black Hills and Badlands.

My best guesstimates for individual attractions would be:

-Jewel Cave (in my opinion, better than Wind, but Wind is still a nice cave)- 2hrs. Arrive at opening to secure tickets.

-Mammoth Site- 1 hr. It's small, but interesting and worth the stop.

-Mt. Rushmore- Half a day. I usually suggest the second half of the day so you can stay for the lighting ceremony and only make one stop.

-Wall- Depends on how much time you want to spend browsing in souvenir-type shops and whether or not you want to eat a meal there. Maybe 2hrs????

-Badlands- 3ish hours to do the main loop, but you could spend a full day there if you want to hike or participate in any park programs.

-Minuteman Site- Can't help you with this one, as I haven't been there yet. Hopefully someone else will answer. Arrive at opening to secure tickets. Good to pair this with the Badlands.

-Deadwood-Depends on how much gambling you want to do, whether or not you want to do a museum (Adams House, Days of 76) and/or eat meals there. You could fill a day, or do it in much less time.

-Theodore Roosevelt NP- I haven't been there since I was in high school. I would pose this question on the North Dakota Forum. I would personally save this for another trip. It's not near the Black Hills and the SD Badlands will be similar.

-Custer State Park- One full day. If you want to hike Harney Peak, add another 5ish hours on a second day. There are three scenic drives (Wildlife, Iron Mt, Needles), a scenic lake (Sylvan) and a mountaintop drive. (Coolidge). Since you have five days, though, I'd suggest bumping at least one of the drives to a different day, or it gets to be a lot of sitting in the car. Take Dramamine if prone to motion sickness.

I would add Devil's Tower and Spearfish Canyon if you're interested in those things. Spearfish Canyon can be combined with Deadwood.

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington
Level Contributor
13,517 posts
114 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: How much time to spend at a location

We did the Minuteman Missile Site in June 2013. Unless you can get to the Visitor's Center to pick up tickets NLT 9:30 am or so, you might be out of luck in July. We arrived around 9am and the earliest tickets available were at 1:30 pm (with the last tour being at 4pm, I recall.) The tour of the Delta-01 Launch Control facility is scheduled to last 30 minutes, but ours ran 45 minutes. You also have to allow time to drive over to the site. A visit to the Delta-09 silo would take about 15 minutes and I would allow around 30 minutes for the Visitor's Center to see the exhibits and the interesting film.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,989 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: How much time to spend at a location

I agree with 3174 and Longhorn's assessments. I tried to get tickets for the Minuteman around 930 this past summer, just like Longhorn, and I found the earliest tour to be 130 also, and it could not accomodate 3 people, which was our party size. Unless you are staying right nearby, it's hard to nail early tix.

I agree on adding Spearfish Canyon and Devil's Tower. Devil's Tower should be easy if you are coming in from WY. I would actually nix Deadwood in favor of these 2 activities.

Five days is a nice amount of time to have. I know you said you did some reading on Crazy Horse, but to me, its history is even more fascinating than Rushmore. Of course seeing it would be your call, but I would not miss it. Everyone should see it once, IMO.

Let us know if we can assist further.

Danbury, Connecticut
Level Contributor
7 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: How much time to spend at a location

The more I read about Deadwood, the more I believe, it's a drive through with, maybe, a stop for lunch or a cup o joe. That being said, how much time would you allow for seeing Spearfish Canyon and Devil's Tower? Thank you

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,989 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: How much time to spend at a location

If you are coming in from WY, you can stop at Devil's Tower on the way, allotting about 2 hours. There are 2 not to be missed short hikes in Spearfish Canyon to Spearfish Falls and Roughlock Falls. For both hikes and driving through, I'd allot 2-3 hours. A lunch stop at Cheyenne Crossing is highly recommended! Delicious carrot cake and a mean Indian taco! It's a restaurant in the old stagecoach depot with lots of character. I would prefer it over Deadwood any day.

6. Re: How much time to spend at a location

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum guideline limiting each user to a single forums screen name.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 9:34 am, January 29, 2014
7. Re: How much time to spend at a location

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum guideline limiting each user to a single forums screen name.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 9:34 am, January 29, 2014
Endless Mountains...
Level Contributor
1,663 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: How much time to spend at a location

Sirtravelplanner states, she finds the history of Crazy Horse more fascinating than Mt Rushmore. I suggest she purchase the book, "The Carving Of Mount Rushmore" by Rex Alan Smith, at the gift shop and read it. History of carving the Memorial,mind boggling,what Gutzon Borglum went thru. Crazy Horse fascinating to visit, but no comparison to Gutzon Borglum's miraculous feat of carving this Memorial in such short time with, very limited funds (had to beg for them)....This is History at its best.....

I would not rush my visit thru here, as previous poster stated......

Edited: 8:50 am, December 31, 2013
Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,989 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: How much time to spend at a location

Joeman, I did not realize Borglum had to beg for the funding for the memorial. Thank you for sharing this information on the book. I hope you and the original poster didn't feel I was lessening the feat of Rushmore. This was not my intention at all. Both works are absolute marvels and worth plenty of touring time.

Endless Mountains...
Level Contributor
1,663 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: How much time to spend at a location

slrtravelplanner, like you stated, both are works of absolute marvels.

I earned enormous respect for Borglum for what he had to endure, after i read that fascinating book

Sadly, never quite finished the Memorial before his death

Puzzled why family buried him in California instead of at Mt Rushmore, where he truly belonged, imo.

Edited: 1:09 am, January 01, 2014