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Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

Regina, Canada
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Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

I'm roadtripping from Canada with spouse and 4 and 8 year old boys. We're trying to be quick and cheap (picnic lunches, outdoor exploring). We're fast movers and early risers.

Staying in Rapid City: taking in Watiki Waterpark (Jun31 8am to noon) then driving out to the Reptile Gardens (if time allows) and on to Mt Rushmore for a look then back to Watiki for an evening swim. I'm looking for tips to visit Mt Rushmore. parking, beating the rush, can you get take away lunch at carvers or sandwiches at the gift shop or should i pack a cooler? would it be better at 1pm or at 4pm? can you recommend walking the path clockwise or counterclockwise? if you rushed through, how long would the loop take?

The next day, we're hoping to hike Little Devils Tower path (morning) and have lunch, maybe a swim at Sylvan lake. I'm wondering again about the restaurant. it looks fancy. but we'll be hiking and swimming. is there take out sandwiches? will parking be tough?

After lunch we're off to Spearfish.

I understand rushing isn't everyone's cup of tea, but we like to maximize our touring with our limited vacation time. thanks in advance for your help!

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1. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

We like Carvers. It is cafeteria style, so it is quick and everybody seems to find something they like.

We stopped at the store at Sylvan lake last June looking for sandwiches, but there was nothing to choose from. We ended up going to the lodge (which is really nice). You might want to pack some food. Parking could be tough by the store, but you should be able to find a spot on the east side of the lake where some of the trail heads start.

When our children were still at home, we also moved quickly on our summer road trips. We had some great journeys! Enjoy!

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Sylvan Lake
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2. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

The general rule of thumb for beating crowds would be to get there early in the morning. This is also best for beating the heat of the day. I'd do Rushmore earlier in the morning and then relax in the pool when it's hot in the afternoon.

I'd also just pack my own sack lunch. I mean this in a nice way, but I don't see the point of carrying the food out and then trying to find a place to eat it. Restaurant or cafeteria food is going to cost the same regardless of where you eat it.

Keep in mind that Sylvan Lake is going to be cold.

I hope you can return to the area sometime. There is so much more to see: Badlands, caves, Mammoth Site, three scenic drives in Custer State Park, Minuteman Site.

I'd do the loop at Rushmore clockwise and allow about 30 minutes.

Edited: 3:08 pm, June 06, 2017
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Pitman, New Jersey
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3. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

I would definitely pack a lunch for the Sylvan Lake day. It's a great place to picnic.

As for the 1st day, I'd probably either tour Rushmore early in the a.m. or after your swim at Watiki. Since you are planning on Watiki twice in one day, you might consider cutting some time there to enable yourselves to see Reptile Gardens with more ease. Reptile Gardens really is great fun.

Are you staying in Spearfish on day 2?

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Regina, Canada
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4. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

Thanks for your responses! I guess we've chosen to avoid the crowds a the waterpark, instead of at Rushmore. we're doing early morning and supper time at Watiki so we can catch the lull's in those crowds! Yes we'll be overnighting in Spearfish after our hike. So that second day where we're hiking Little Devil's Tower and then Sylvan... Would area experts recommend the Sunday Gulch hike instead of the the LDT? or is sunday gulch just a short one? Another stop i considered on our way north was the Devil's Bath Tub, but thought we'd be hiked out - so we'll stop in at yet another waterpark for the boys (Spearfish Rec & Aquatic Centre). :) Thanks again! so carvers cafeteria/ pack lunch for sylvan/ clockwise. great!

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5. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

We haven't hiked Sunday Gulch yet (it's not a short trail). We have chosen the others over it (Little Devil's Tower, Cathedral Spires and Black Elk Peak) because we like views. But, I have read on the South Dakota hiking FB page that Sunday Gulch is a favorite because of the scenery. I really don't think you can go wrong with any of them:) If you want an easier hike, the walk around Sylvan Lake takes about 45 minutes.

You could stop at the swimming beach at Lake Pactola on the way to Spearfish. The marina store down the road has great broasted chicken if you are looking for something to eat.

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6. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

Black Elk Peak is still called Harney Peak by the locals and the trail is still known as Harney Peak Trail. For those who thought that the change was a good idea, be advised that Devil's Tower is now on the "change" hit list and there has been talk about Mt. Rushmore.

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Harney Peak
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7. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

Annie, I know you're trying to be politically correct, but please understand the reason why you're ruffling feathers. The federal government just came in and changed the name of our most prominent landform without asking permission of the people of South Dakota. I understand that Mr. Harney did some very bad things, but the people of the state should have been polled and had a chance to vote on potential new names. This is akin to the federal government suddenly changing the name of Grand Canyon to Great Ravine without any input by Arizonans. When a school mascot that is deemed offensive has a name change, the school gets to decide the new mascot name. We had no say. For me, the problem isn't the name change in and of itself, it's the exertion of control that bothers me. I suggest doing what other posters have done and writing Black Elk Peak/Harney Peak. It's going to take years and years for this name change to settle in. How many people still refer to Mt. McKinley as Mt. McKinley?

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Pitman, New Jersey
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8. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

Mom Mobile, I totally understand and respect your feelings and would feel the same way in your shoes. I completely agree with using both names in order to make it clearer for visitors coming to the area. Since we are here to guide travelers, I intend to continue the practice of using both names, since both seem to be out there. It is my understanding that the name change hasn't occurred on all publications, websites, etc, so I think we need to let travelers know they might encounter either or even both names. I encourage and hope all of our regular posters use this practice for the sake of clarity.

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Mobile
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9. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

Can't we just focus on helping others instead of picking people's posts apart?

Los Angeles...
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10. Re: Rushmore Tips/Sylvan Lake Info

What's in a name...