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.

Mt. Rushmore in June

Which Rapid City hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Long Island, NY
Level Contributor
149 posts
48 reviews
Save Topic
Mt. Rushmore in June

Greetings from Long Island! I need some help planning a trip to your neck of the woods in June, 2006. I plan to stay in Rapid City and visit Mt. Rushmore and Wind Cave. I have 3 full days, will that be enough? What else would you advise a pair of active seniors who are National Park junkies to see? Also, are there any regional airlines that serve Rapid City from either Jackson Hole or Denver? I'm getting ridiculous plane fares from the "big" guys. Also, what is the terrain in this area? Specifically, mountain roads with sharp curves make me physically ill with fear! Can you recommend a couple of tour companies that would provide day trips. Thanks and if you're coming to Long Island or NY, ask me!

Hydrokitty

Grand Island...
Level Contributor
167 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Mt. Rushmore in June

A few other national parks/monuments in the area include Jewel Cave (entirely different formations from Wind Cave. They are both spectacular and within about 20 miles of each other.), Badlands National Park, and Devil's Tower. The Badlands are about 60 miles east of Rapid City. They have absolutely beautiful scenery. You can drive through, stopping at pullouts in about an hour, or take a little longer to walk a couple short trails. Devil's Tower is a couple hours north and west of Rapid City. But is a truly remarkable site. It has a short trail (about a mile long) around its base or a longer one a little further away through the prairie.

If twisty, turny roads are not your thing, you'll probably want to miss Hwy 16A. I love this road and it is well-known for it's fantastic views of Mt. Rushmore through its tunnels, but it is also known for it pigtail loops and sharp turns. Mt. Rushmore is easily accessible from the other direction.

The Needles Hwy in Custer State Park is also a little turny in places, but is one of my favorite drives. Not difficult as long as you take the corners slow.

Devil's Tower and the Badlands can be reached with short drives off the Interstate. It's also not necessary to drive 'mountain' roads to get to Wind Cave or Jewel Cave from Rapid City.

This is one of my favorite areas to visit, and I could spend a couple weeks there every year, but this post mostly focuses on National Parks/Monuments. Anything else you'd be interested in?

Long Island, NY
Level Contributor
149 posts
48 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Mt. Rushmore in June

Thanks Gibby, I appreciate the information. We're interested in natural wonders and historical places. When I get the urge for man-made fantasy I head for DisneyWorld!! We're coming from Jackson WY after spending time at Grand Teton and Yellowstone. We'll be taking escorted tours through the parks so I can load up on xanax and enjoy the ride. It's not so much twisty, turny as it is combining twisty, turny with height. My son (lives in Denver) took us up to Loveland Pass and I was lying on the floor of the back seat all the way up. Once at the top, I'm fine and I love to fly....go figure. Anyway, what other stuff do you have in mind?

Hydrokitty

Grand Island...
Level Contributor
167 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Mt. Rushmore in June

The Needles Highway and highway 16A may both be worth it to you. The views are incredible on both, and both have several pullouts along the way in case you need to stop. The Black Hills is an incredibly scenic area. Rapid City or Hill City is a fairly central location. There is quite a bit to do in the north or south, and we never have time to do both in one trip.

I love caves, and in addition to Jewel Cave (National Monument) and Wind Cave (National Park) have also visited Rushmore Cave, Black Hills Caverns, and Sitting Bull Crystal Cave. The ones that aren't in the NPS are still beautiful if you're into caves.

I also focus on natural wonders, scenery, and historical places. A couple places right in Rapid City are The Journey Museum (a 'high tech' museum on the history of the area, really fun), and the Museum of Geology, located at the S. Dakota School of Mines and Tech. It's an amazing display of area rocks and fossils (also free, last time we went). There is a beautiful chapel in Rapid City called Chapel in the Hills, a replica of an 850 yr. old church in Norway. Our family also enjoys fish hatcheries and Rapid City has a nice one called Cleghorn Springs State Fish Hatchery. Flying T offers a Chuckwagon supper and show. Great entertainment.

In Hill City, just south of Rapid, is the 1880 Train, a wonderful 2-hour round trip train ride in 19th century coaches pulled by a steam engine. There's another museum in Hill City called the Black Hills Museum of Natural History. It has a model of the t-rex, Sue found nearby and now at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

South of Hill City is Crazy Horse Memorial, a work in progress. I think the head is finished, but it will takes many years for completion. The scale is much larger than the carvings at Mt. Rushmore. It is still worth seeing for the Visitor Center, etc. if you're into Indian history.

In Custer State Park, besides the Needles Highway, you should take the wildlife loop and get excellent views of bison, antelope, deer, and maybe even get to feed the begging burros. We took a hike from Sylvan Lake to the top of Harney Peak. It's about 6 miles round trip, but there are beautiful views from the top of the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains from a lookout built in the 1930's by the CCC.

In Hot Springs (southern Hills) is the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary (expensive, but worth it), the Mammoth Site (one of the largest concentrations of Columbian Mammoth bones ever found, left in situ), and the hot springs themselves at Evan Plunge.

In Deadwood (northern Hills) is Mt. Moriah Cemetery (where Wild Bill Hickok and Clamity Jane are buried), besides the casinos, etc.

In Spearfish (also northern Hills) is the Black Hills Passion Play. We loved this, but the evenings do get a little cool. Combining history and a fish hatchery is the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery.

This is more than enough for 3 days, and I've just touched on some of our favorites.

Rapid City, SD
Level Contributor
893 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: Mt. Rushmore in June

Rushmore Tours is a popular tour bus company. I can't say anything good or bad about them as I haven't (and probably never will) ride on one of their tours. A search for Rushmore Tours on a search engine will get you their information. If you're able to drive, a rental car car is usually the best way to see the area.

You're limited to United, Delta, Northwest and Allegient (Las Vegas only) for airline service into Rapid City.

I will add a couple things to the other replies.

National Parks:

Wind Cave. This park features the cave and large land area of the southern Black Hills. It is sort of a continuation of Custer State Park with buffalo, pronghorn, elk, etc.

Badlands. This is not in the Black Hills, but out on the prairie.

National Monuments:

Jewel Cave. This monument is located west of Custer and exists pretty much for the cave. The land area that the monument contains is small. Only plan on visiting if you want a cave tour.

Devils Tower. In Wyoming. Two hour drive from Rapid City/central Black Hills.

National Memorial:

Mount Rushmore

National Historic Site:

Minuteman Missile. This is a new site featuring a Minuteman missile silo (Cold War missiles were all over western SD). This would be incorporated into a trip to the Badlands.

The best natural sights to see in the Black Hills are generally the northern part of Custer State Park and Spearfish Canyon.

You may want to consider a motion sickness "Reliefband" available from sellers like Sharper Image. My wife suffers from car and air sickness so she tried it and it actually works pretty well. It sends a light electrical pulse into your arm and keeps you from getting sick.

South Dakota
Level Contributor
20 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Mt. Rushmore in June

I have lived here all my life and think it would be a wonderful place for visiting. It is not a very rushed area and would suggest that if you like the outdoorsI would suggest staying at one of the bed and breakfast's is the area. There is a wonderful one called Coyote Blues by Pactola lake ( Beautiful area) It is owned by a couple that had visited from germany and like it so well here they moved. Great food, great company, good location..( went and stayed for my anniversary a couple of years ago.)....Places to visit, Although Crazy Horse monument is man made the museum at the base of the monumnet is full of native american history. Kinda neat.. The caves don't do much for me.. Once inside they all look the same to me. If I had to pick one it would be Wind Cave. The drive to get there is beautiful, alot of wildlife, and the accomidations once there are far more convienient. The game Lodge in Custer state park offer a Jeep ride through the wildlife loop road. you get off the main road a bit and they know where the buffalo are... The terrain is nothing compared to Colorado. Some of the roads are wind around but the edges are not some huge drop. I have the same fear when we go snowmobile in the mountains in Montana. The ride getting there scares me.. Hope you have a great time when you are here. You picked a good time. Bring a jacket and and sweater as the nights in the Hills tend to cool down alot more than they do in Rapid City.

Long Island, NY
Level Contributor
149 posts
48 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Mt. Rushmore in June

Thank you all for so much information! I'm really getting excited about this trip, my AAA books and maps arrived today and I've been reviewing your notes with the books. We are both really "into" caves and spent our honeymoon spelunking in Shenandoah Valley, so any and all caves in the area will be on our list. If you love caves, no two of them are alike! We will definitely go to Rushmore and Crazy Horse, even though they're man-made, some things you gotta go see! I was looking at Devil's Tower too. I'm not sure where we should stay now. I had been looking at RC proper but now I see there are many places nearer the parks. I think we'll rent a car in RC. Driving doesn't look to bad. My problem isn't motion sickness or sickness of any kind actually, it's the big yellow streak down my back when we get on a mountain road with switchbacks! I think I'm the only person in the world who did the Amalfi Coast sitting on the floor of the bus. When it stopped I got out and enjoyed the wonderful scenary but when that bus was doing those curves it was white knuckle panic all the way!

Hydrokitty