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.

Trip itinerary review

California
Level Contributor
62 posts
Save Topic
Trip itinerary review

We (family of 4 with 2 kids - 14 &12) are planning a trip to the Black Hills from 5/31-6/7. Here is our plan. We will arrive in Rapid City on 5/31.

5/31-6/4 - stay in Hill City

We would like to see - Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Mammoth Site, Wind Cave, Spearfish Canyon .

6/5-6/6- stay in Wall to see Badlands. Leave on 6/7 from Rapid City.

Questions for TA DEs-

1. How does this itinerary look? Is that too much to do between 5/31-6/4 (4 full days and 2 half days).

2. Is Spearfish Canyon a doable day trip from Hill City?

3. Once we have done Wind Cave, should we plan to do any of the other caves.

4. What is the Harney Peak hike like? Any do's and don'ts

5. In Custer State Park - is there good hiking? Does one get out and walk on the Wildlife Loop or is it only a drive thru?

Thanks so much!

Iowa
Level Contributor
1,448 posts
465 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip itinerary review

I'm not a DE, but can answer a few of your questions:

2) Spearfish canyon is very doable from Hill City. In fact, if you don't mind a bit of a drive you could even add a visit to Devil's Tower after visiting Spearfish canyon. We did that from Custer and back. Drive time was about two hours one way.

3) We did both Wind cave and Jewel cave, and I was glad we did both. I'm into caves though.

5) Custer state park has some great hiking trails. If. you go to the Custer state park website it should have a trail map. One thing, the time of year you are going might mean trails are muddy.

For the Wildlife loop, you drive through it. I think it's around eleven miles long? We had good luck spotting wildlife early in the morning.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,804 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip itinerary review

You itinerary is actually a little light, IMO. I think you can definitely add some things. You might consider:

Deadwood

Jewel Cave.

Reptile Gardens

Bear Country

Cosmos Mystery Area

Devil's Tower

Definitely add Devil's Tower the day you go to Spearfish. You might also be interested in Deadwood and seeing the Adams House/Museum, along with Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

Definitely add Jewel Cave. I don't know if you saw this, but Jewel is not taking advance tour reservations this year due to road construction projects on Rt. 16 and in the Visitor's Center Parking area itself. Jewel and Wind Cave are very unique and IMO, both are worth visiting. Like Kren, I'm also into caves.

I have not done the Harney Peak hike, as it's a bit too adventurous for me. Here's a link to the trail system in the area:

…sd.gov/state-parks/…harney-trailheads.aspx

The Wildlife Loop is actually 18 miles and is pretty much drive through. You can get out of your cars in safe spots for photos. I've seen wild burro jams on the road. Everyone loves feeding them apples or carrots.

Please let us know of you have further questions.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
28,997 posts
420 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip itinerary review

Be sure to go online or order a travel guide for the Black Hills. It has lots of info, sample trip plans, coupons, maps, etc. Here is the link-

www.travelsd.com

When you visit Custer SP eat at the State Game Lodge or Blue Bell Lodge. They have a delicious buffet with bison stew, homemade pies and lots of other choices.

Apple Valley...
Level Contributor
775 posts
53 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip itinerary review

My friend and his wife plus his father in law did the Harney Peak hike this past July (while I was also in the area seperately) and it took the better part of the day from what I recall. We met up later on that evening but I know it was several hours as it was the same time my other friend and I were visiting the wildlife loop and Mt Rushmore.

I would second the Cosmos Mystery area, very cool indeed and I had customers at work tell me how much fun it was when they heard I was going to SD. I would also recommend a chuckwagon dinner and show as well. The most adventurous I got was the walk around Sylvan Lake which includes some rock climbing on the back side!

Your kids might also like the Alpine Slide in Keystone. I very much enjoyed seeing the baby bears play at Bear Country USA.

California
Level Contributor
62 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip itinerary review

I love TA. All of you are awesome!! Thank you so much for the prompt and useful info!

kren- thanks - will add Devil's Tower and both caves for sure!

slrtravelplan- will look into the multiple options you suggested.

PeachBelle- I have the guide and it is fantastic. Do you know anything abut the coupon book? Is that something I order online or do I get it once I get there?

Also, we are vegetarian, so do you know if the buffet has good vegetarian options?

goodiowagirl- did they like the Harney Peak hike? Am trying to figure if it is worth losing the entire day to it.

Thanks!

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
28,997 posts
420 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip itinerary review

Many of the coupons are online and I got one when I ordered the guide- that was a couple of years ago so hope they still do that.

The buffet had lots of salads and vegetables, plus meats, bison stew and homemade pies.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,804 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip itinerary review

Try this site:

http://blackhillsdiscounts.com/

There's a coupon book that you can purchase. We have done this and found that is has more than paid for itself.

Apple Valley...
Level Contributor
775 posts
53 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip itinerary review

I think they did think it was worth it and enjoyed it. Not being a hiker myself, I was looking at some of the options to find easy scenic walks and if I remember correctly, there were different trailheads for starting off points and some are less then others in total but I do not know which they did. But there was information online. Have fun!

At the Badlands, we did walk out onto the rocks on the first stop called Window/Doors. We only went 2 or 3 markers out but it was so worth it to feel a a part of the scenery, looking back at the boardwalk!

Jackson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
567 posts
176 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trip itinerary review

We made the trip last year with our twin nieces age 14 they had a great time. We did quite a bit of hiking. In Badlands make sure you. Do the Notch Trail only if you are not afraid of heights. You must climb a 2 story ladder and scramble on your knees at points. But well worth it- such. A unique hike.

In Custer the sylvan lake loop is one mile easy flat and scenic, but you will also enjoy the Sunday Gulch trail that takes off behind sylvan lake . It is close to 3 miles, steep with hand rails in places. When you finish the hike have a picnic and swim in Sylvan Lake.

We also did the Cathedral spires hike in Custer. You pull out to it while taking the scenic Needles highway drive. A moderate trail with an uphill incline..

Mount Rushmore has a pretty nice hiking trail and we saw mountain goats there near dusk.

One other activity our girls enjoyed if it is within your budget is we rented a pontoon boat on Lake Pactola Reservoir. Scenery is spectacular.

Water frigid but we all kept jumping in and out , and ate our picnic lunch Out on the boat.

California
Level Contributor
62 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Trip itinerary review

We leave this Friday. I am really concerned about the weather. Rain in the forecast. Does it rain daily for a short time in the afternoon or is it raining all the time? Rain could really put a "damper" on our plans. We are going to be staying at the Newton Fork Ranch in Hill City only for 7 nights, 6 days. Here is what we are planning for the 6 days

Day 1- Badlands and Wall Drug

Day 2- Wildlife Loop, Custer State Prk, Lunch at one of the lodges

Iron Mountain Road - south to north

Mount Rushmore

Day 3- Jewel Cave

Crazy Horse

Day 4 -Spearfish Canyon

Devil's Tower

Day 5- Wind Caves

Mammoth at Hot Springs

Wild Horse Sanctuary

Day 6- flexible, depending on what the kids want to do.

Does that look OK.

Additional questions-

- groceries - is there a grocery store in Hill City or should we stock up in Rapid City (which is where we fly in).

- we are vegetarian - any other recommendations for places to eat? I know there is a good pizza place in Keystone. Any other recommendations?

- also any insight into the weather would be really appreciated.

Thanks

Get answers to your questions about Hill City
Recent Conversations