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Short family trip with children 10 & 13

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NW Illinois
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Short family trip with children 10 & 13

I have been reading all of the messages that have been posted here and have found lots of awesome ideas but was wondering if anyone would want to help plan a few days for me. We will be traveling from northern Illinois with a stop in Sioux Falls on Sunday, July 14th. We will then be continuing to the Rapid City area for a three night stay. The excursions on our wish list would be: Wall Drug, Corn Palace, Cowboy breakfast, tours of Badlands, Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore including lighting ceremony, Chuckwagon supper, trail ride and alpine slide. I completely understand that our wish list is extensive! We will be traveling back to Sioux Falls area on Thursday, July 18th and returning home on Friday, July 19th. Anybody want to tackle a touring plan for us? Has anybody used the smart alec gps touring guide? Thanks so much for any and all advice!!

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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1. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

I have not ever used smart alec, so unfortunately I can't make any comment there.

Here's what I would try:

July 14: Overnight in Sioux Falls

July 15: Stop at the Badlands and Wall Drug; Overnight in Keystone/Hill City/Custer for next 3 nights.

July 16: Early start for the Wildlife Loop; drive Iron Mountain Rd from south to north, stopping at Rushmore and seeing the monument by day; Alpine Slide; Chuckwagon supper (Maybe Fort Hays since it's close to Rushmore); return for the lighting ceremony at Rushmore

July 17: Cowboy breakfast; Sylvan Lake; Needles Hwy; Trail Ride at Blue Bell Stables--make advance reservations; You could probably add something else here.

July 18: Corn Palace and head to Sioux Falls for the night

July 19: Home

Any other suggestions and ideas welcome as always! :)

nwilslp, please feel free to ask additional questions.

South Dakota
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2. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

When you get back to Sioux Falls on the return trip, try to visit Falls Park if you are not too exhausted. The park is obviously free as is the observation tower.

If you need to get out and stretch your legs between IL and MN, take the first MN exit after you cross the Mississippi River from WI to MN. The exit is for a rest area but also goes to a lock and dam. The road will fork. To the left is the dam and to the right is the rest area. You might be able to catch a tow locking through. If you choose the dam, it is not necessary to visit the rest area as the dam has a nice set of bathrooms. There is also a picnic table should you want to have lunch. At any rate, it is worth a quick stop to enjoy the beauty of the river valley.

Apple Valley...
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3. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

On the 16th I would only suggest to add the short drive up to the Mt Coolidge Fire Lookout Tower for awesome views. Its a turn off from the Wildlife Loop in CSP.

NW Illinois
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4. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

Thank you for all of your suggestions! My husband just mentioned that he would also like to see Devil's Tower. Where would you advise squeezing that in?

Apple Valley...
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5. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

Maybe drive up there early on the 17th and then come back and do Needles, etc. later in the day? Its about 2 hours north. Also good to add Spearfish Canyon if going up North or Deadwood if interested. Might need to do Crazy Horse or Mt Rushmore after the Badlands to free up time as well and shift the plan slightly. Best of course to add a day if at all possible! :-)

FYI, the Corn Palace is literally a 15 minute detour off the Interstate and take just a few minutes to see from the outside (its just an auditorium on the inside although there is a bit more corn art wall murals if you are really really into that kind of thing). I honestly do not think it was worth it. :-( Wall Drug is similar unless you are really into souvenir shopping. We stopped there for lunch after doing the Badlands Loop and looked around a bit. Maybe more out in the "backyard" for kids.

NW Illinois
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6. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

Thank you , thank you, thank you for all of your many suggestions! I really appreciate it!

Pitman, New Jersey
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7. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

It would be ideal to add a day for the northern region of the Black Hills, plus Devil's Tower. However, if you can't, adding it to the 17th does make the most sense. An early start is a must. You will need about 2 hours at Devil's Tower. Be sure to make the time to walk the easy trail around the base.

If you add Devil's Tower, I'd recommend nixing the trail ride, unfortunately. I don't think you will have time for it all.

Springdale, Arkansas
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8. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

My husband and I used smart alec the last time we were visiting SD. We absolutely loved it and are hoping they are still in business since we plan on taking our 14 yr old granddaughter with us when we visit in a few weeks. We were there for a week, but only used "it" for 3 days while driving through places like Custer State Park and especially liked the friendly "warning" about the donkeys that expect to be fed Cheetos and/or other chips!

And I agree about the Corn Palace. You don't really see anything in the summer because they have to wait for the corn to be harvested in the fall in order to put them up on the outside of the building. But if you have the time, it is still interesting and makes for a quick out-of-the-car stop for a few minutes.

You might have to draw straws on the Devi's Tower vs trail ride. I can't imagine not doing both! Have a nice trip.

NW Illinois
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9. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

Thanks again for everyone's comments and suggestions. We have decided to add a day onto our trip because of all of things we want to do! This is what I have come up with based on suggestions. Please feel free to add any additional suggestions!

Sunday, 7/14-Travel to Sioux Falls

Monday, 7/15-Travel to Rapid City with stops at Wall Drug and Corn Palace. Wondering how much more time it would take to add the Badlands Scenic Loop Highway on to this part of trip?

Tuesday, 7/16-Up early to Wildlife Loop, stop at Mt. Coolidge Fire Tower, short explore of Mt. Rushmore, Alpine Slide, possible supper at Big Time Pizza, and then back to Mt. Rushmore for more exploring and lighting ceremony

Wednesday, 7/17-Andy's Trail Rides at 9 am for 2 hour trail ride, Cheyenne Crossing for lunch, Travel to Devil's Tower (hike around base), travel back to Rapid City via a stop and picnic supper at Spearfish Canyon

Thursday, 7/18-Rushmore Cave Tour, Family Zipline, and 7D interactive adventure (13 year olds request). Drive by Crazy Horse, Drive South to North on Iron Mountain Road and chuckwagon supper at Ft. Hays.

Friday, 7/18-Start return trip back to IL.

Saturday, 7/19 Home.

Thanks again for all of your help!!

KCK
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10. Re: Short family trip with children 10 & 13

If time is an issue that second day, I would skip the Corn Palace and do the Badlands loop. But you should be able to do it all. Looks like about 6 hours total drive time. You could have lunch either at Cedar Pass (they also have quite a few picnic tables if you would prefer a picnic lunch) or in Wall.