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Is this possible?

akron, oh
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Is this possible?

Hi All, I'm trying to plan a few days in the black hills in August. We will only have one full day. Here is my tentative plan for the day.....is it even possible?

We will be staying at High Country Guest Ranch

8 - 10 am - Up early and get to Crazy Horse by 8 am....spend a couple of hours

10 - 2 - Drive to Sylvan Lake....walk around the lake, picnic and maybe a swim or paddle boats

2 - 4 Head back to the cabin to rest for a few hours

4 - 6 Drive down needles to wildlife loop.....a couple hours with stops for photos

6 - 7 - Head up iron mt rd to mt rushmore....stops for photos

7 pm Arrive at Mt Rushmore at least an hour before the lighting ceremony, walk presidents trail

Stay for lighting then head back to cabin

Too much time at Sylvan? Skip the trip back to the cabin? Is three hours enough to drive down needles, around wildlife loop and up iron mountain?

Additional info: there will be 6 of us ages 75, 64, 42, two 23s, and an eight month old so long hikes are out. Also note that we may have additional time the following morning for another viewing of mt rushmore.

Please help, I want to squeeze everything into a short time :(

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
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5,989 posts
61 reviews
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1. Re: Is this possible?

Yes, you have quite a busy day planned. You might want to be prepared to whittle down some activities by prioritizing what you really want to see.

Some suggestions:

1. You could just do a drive by of Crazy Horse, which will allow you to sleep longer or spend more time somewhere else.

2. You could shorten your time at Sylvan Lake. It's actually pretty chilly to swim there. You could just have a picnic and spend some time walking the shore. IMO, you could probably do this in 2 hours. I would not want to rent a boat with a baby.

3. Eliminate your rest period at the cabin, unless someone in your party really needs it. I'm thinking this might tough on the baby, unless he/she will sleep in the car.

You ask if 3 hours in enough to drive the Needles, Wildlife Loop and Iron Mt. Rd. It really depends on the number of stops you make. To me, 3 hours would be the minimum amount of time needed.

Another note: If you arrive at Rushmore at 7 p.m. and want to walk the Presidential Trail, the Sculptor's Studio will be closed. To me, this is an integral part of the walk. You get to see the original plan of the monument, and there other exhibits to see. You might want to take another look at Rushmore in the a.m. the following day so you can see this worthwhile attraction.

Another consideration..will your 8 month old be ok for the lighting ceremony?

Let us know if you have additional questions.

akron, oh
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109 posts
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2. Re: Is this possible?

Thank you! You offer some great advice. I'll do some tweaking but it seems like there is a possibility to squeeze it all into one day....of course with and older person in not the best health and a baby, I'll have to remain flexible and open to the possibility of missing something :) I'm going to work on the three day plan and post later for feedback. Thank you again for your help. :)

South Dakota
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3. Re: Is this possible?

I agree about everything slrtravelplanner said. I would photograph Crazy Horse from the highway. I would also skip the boat and the swim at Sylvan. Not sure how fit the older folks are or whether the baby is using a stroller or being carried, but you could go clockwise around the lake and double back before the trail gets more difficult for those individuals. I would also start with one of the drives and then use your time at Sylvan to get out of the car and stretch in between drives. These drives take longer to do than people think with the slow speed limits, winding roads and photo stops. Do Iron Mt. Rd. on the way to Rushmore.

Our kids always napped in the car, will the baby do this? Can the 75 year old maybe rest on a bench or in a comfortable lawn chair at Sylvan? You will not have time for a rest if you wish to see all these things.

When in August are you going? The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held in early August. If you hit the Hills at that time, you can expect the roads to be filled with bikers.

South Dakota
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4. Re: Is this possible?

I tried to add this to my OP, but the time to do so had expired. Your original plan is overly ambitious even for young adults with no kids. I read it to my husband for another opinion and he said, "No way." You will need to change your expectations about what you can see with elderly people and an infant in a short period of time. Keep in mind that anything you see is better than no trip at all. Take care, relax and enjoy your time.

Apple Valley...
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5. Re: Is this possible?

Well Grandma (?) will probably not want to do the Presidential Trail if not in good health as it includes a lot of stairs, no matter which direction. A bit easier to go left from the main viewing terrace but still some stone steps after the boardwalk to return to the main building area.

Sylvan Lake is very nice the 20's something and mom and dad will enjoy the walk around with some light rock climbing that is well worth the views.

You said you only have 1 full day but are planning a few days in the hills. Will you have any time on an evening you arrive possibly to add something such at Mt Rushmore possibly?

Sutton Coldfield
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6. Re: Is this possible?

We arrived at Mount Rushmore at 8pm. Walked the Presidents trail (not the steps) including studio.

Returned to visitors centre for video and exhibits. Went outside for lighting ceremony. Plenty of time.

akron, oh
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7. Re: Is this possible?

Thanks everyone, I know it is a bit overly ambitious.....we just have so little time and I want to see everything! I'll do a little more tweaking and post new plan later. With the older folks and the baby I know that any 'plan' will likely not be strictly followed through and I will be very grateful for anything we get to see :)

8. Re: Is this possible?

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