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Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

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akron, oh
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Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

Hello All:

I have received some great advice on here and revised my itinerary to lighten it up some. We are a party of six consisting of my 74 year old father, 64 year old mother, me (42), my daughter and son-in-law who are both 23 and my will be 8 month old granddaughter. My parents and I will be visiting my daughter and her family who live in Sioux Falls. We will be traveling to the Black Hills on August 13 and staying two nights at High Country Guest Ranch in Hill City. My son-in-law is the only one of us who has been to the area before. I've tried to keep our plans light to have some flexibility with older folks and the baby.

Here is what I have planned. I'd appreciate any thoughts and advice.

Aug 13 - Leave Sioux Falls very early (between 4 and 5 am ct) drive to the Badlands and drive the loop. We'll stop for lots of photos I'm sure. Hope to do a couple of short walks (probably Doors or Windows trails). We'll stop by the missleman visitor center but probably won't take time for the tour. I do hope to also stop at the silo. We will then stop in Wall mostly just the drug store. I think that we should be able to get to Hill City before 4 without feeling rushed.

Aug 14 - plan to visit Sylvan Lake, drive Needles and Iron Mt roads and visit Mt. Rushmore. Not planning any set times and expect to have extra time. Some other possible activites for that day may include 1880 train, Mt Rushmore lighting, chuckwagon dinner at circle b, shopping/exploring Keystone and/or Hill City, hanging out at the cabin and enjoying the pool.

Aug 15 - up early again and get to Crazy Horse when they open at 8 (my father has wanted to see this forever) will spend an hour or two then drive through Custer SP and the wildlife loop road. We will then head out 36/79 back up to I-90 and the long ride back to Sioux Falls

Any thoughts appreciated. Also, any other activities that I can add to the bag as possibilities for our full day? Of course I don't plan to do them all, just want to have a lot of options ready. If the older folks and the baby need some down time, my daughter and son-in-law and I would like to do a more strenuous hike, maybe to Harney Peak?

Thanks for all the great advice so far!

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

Go online and check out the online travel guide for the Black Hills at-

www.travelsd.com

It has lots of great info and maps.

Arlington, Virginia
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2. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

I just got back from a 9-day visit to the Black Hills and I think your plan is quite workable as you are keeping it flexible. A few points:

1. I would definitely stop at the Minuteman Missile Visitor's Center. It's small and there are few exhibits, but the short (15 minute) film is well worth seeing. The stop at the missile silo is right off the highway and would only take you 5 - 10 minutes to see.

2. DO go to the evening lighting ceremony at Mt. Rushmore--it's very well-done. If possible, plan to hang out there until 10:30 pm or so. (The gift shop stays open after the lighting ceremony and is fun to check out even if you aren't shopping.) That gives traffic time to clear out of the parking area. We saw the gridlock right after the lighting ceremony ended and decided to wait. When we left around 10:30 pm, we were able to just drive right out. It was so easy and less stressful than sitting in traffic.

3. The hike up Harney Peak is well worth it for the views. I just completed my 4th hike up there and I will agree that it is strenuous. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear, take LOTS of water, wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat. The pine beetles have, unfortunately, killed a lot of the pine trees that used to shade the trail and now most of the hike has to be done in full sun. When you get to the summit, you can see the backside of Mt. Rushmore--it's the large rectangular shaped mountain in the distance.

Apple Valley...
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3. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

You could do the Mt Rushmore Lighting Ceremony the first night after a rest at the cabin? If you do that then I think you will have time for the chuckwagon dinner and show on the 14th.

I also do not think you will have time for the train.

Looks like a good plan for a short visit, have fun!

South Dakota
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4. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

Much better plan than before. You will probably not have time for Harney Peak as it takes several hours and your days are still fairly full. You would need to allow close to a half day. If you want a nice vista everyone can enjoy, you could drive up Mt. Coolidge to the fire tower. Just my opinions, though.

If you choose the 1880 Train, take the first one out of Hill City in the morning so you can get seats together. It will fill up later in the day. I would suggest one adult drive so you only have to go one way. The return trip is repeat scenery and the dialogue repeats word for word. My family enjoyed the first leg of the trip, but we were restless on the return trip. The grandparents may really like the train.

Also, I did not realize your dates before, but just a heads up that the Sturgis Rally ends the day before you arrive and not everyone leaves right away. There may be a lot of bikers on the road. Just a FYI.

Edited: 3:18 pm, June 26, 2013
Pitman, New Jersey
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5. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

I agree with 3174; this plan is much, much better. I have not done the Harney Peak hike, (too ambitious for me, but I have read it takes 5-6 hours as 3174 said. Since Longhorn just did the hike, maybe he/she could share the timing of it. I'm just not sure if I'd take the time away from other things, even if someone needs a break.

I'd keep an open mind about the train and be prepared to nix it if you have to.

Let us know if we can help further.

Arlington, Virginia
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6. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

The sign at the trailhead of the Harney Peak trail (#9) says that it should take 4 - 5 hours to complete and that's probably a fairly accurate estimate. (We actually did it in a little under 4 hours.)

Re-reading your plans, I doubt you will have time to do this hike. Instead, I would recommend the easy hike around Sylvan Lake. It is only a mile long and the scenery/views are great. There is a bit of elevation at the end behind the rocks, but nothing that your group should have a problem with.

akron, oh
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7. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

Thanks so much to all. I am so excited about this trip and thanks to the advice of this forum I know we will be well prepared :)

Indy
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8. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

I replied to your message about Indiana and figured I could give some advice about Rapid City. While we went six years ago, we only had two days. We arrived around 4PM and checked in and ate. Big mistake as we missed the night ceremony at Mt. Rushmore. Mt. Rushmore is a must see both during the day and at night. Hangout for a bit after the ceremony if possible as the crowds quickly vanished during our trip, and it was very peaceful.

Our first full day we drove to Badlands NP. Just a drive thru with a handful of stops for photos and checking out the visitor's center. Arrived at Wall Drug around noon to 1PM, hung out there for a couple of hours. Returned to Rapid City and hung out at hotel pool until time to eat. Second day we visited Rushmore during the day and did the hike to the base and back (not anything difficult or terribly long). Lunch in Keystone, drove through part of Custer SP, then took parents to Deadwood so they could gamble (We actually got lost and ended up in Spearfish first, then found a scenic roadway that took us the back way into Deadwood). Then we went back to Rapid City.

I felt our two full days and partial day were plenty. I do plan a return trip in the near future to further explore the area, possibly get some hiking in as well and see some of the things we missed (missile stuff, caves).

Madison, Wisconsin
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9. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

The corn palace is an interesting site just off 90 in Mitchell. Watch the slide show in the theater there about a half hour. You didn't mention Deadwood. Great little town with daily shoot outs on main street. 4 and 6 pm and also during afternoon. Saloon 10 on main is a must see with the history of Wild Bill. No need to drink but just walk in to look at the artifacts and sawdust floors. Also the cemetary with gravesites of Wild Bill, Calamity Jane etc Lastly walk through the buildings on the theater side they are all connected decorated by historic pictures and descriptions.... very interesting

Madison, Wisconsin
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10. Re: Itinerary August 13 -15 - Please advise

The corn palace is an interesting site just off 90 in Mitchell. Watch the slide show in the theater there about a half hour. You didn't mention Deadwood. Great little town with daily shoot outs on main street. 4 and 6 pm and also during afternoon. Saloon 10 on main is a must see with the history of Wild Bill. No need to drink but just walk in to look at the artifacts and sawdust floors. Also the cemetary with gravesites of Wild Bill, Calamity Jane etc Lastly walk through the buildings on the theater side they are all connected decorated by historic pictures and descriptions.... very interesting