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weekend more crowded?

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Framingham
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58 posts
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weekend more crowded?

we will be coming to rapid city, custer, badlands, etc. in late august. we will overlap a weekend. generally speaking are the weekends more crowded or is it about the same?. this would be the weekend of aug 25-26th. we have some flexibility as to what we do on the weekend to avoid the crowds if necessary.

4 1/2 days in custer exploring the blackhills and 2 days (well really 2 nights 1 1/2 days in badlands). this doens't not count arrival day in rapid city and departure day.

we like to do things leisurely. not much hiking. and into photography and nature stuff.

Planning on staying at holiday inn in custer (need kitchenette) and frontier cabins in badland area. and not sure where in rapid city. they all seem to have some problems when reading reviews or just reviewed by first person reviewer which is always suspicious to me.

thanks

and any thoughts on what to do when, weekend issue, etc. appreciated.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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1. Re: weekend more crowded?

Hi Joanel,

I have been to the area when you are going and didn't find the crowds bad at all, weekends or weekdays. Some schools are back in sessions when you will be there, and I find that does make a difference. I do think it's wise to avoid the more known attractions like Rushmore on a weekend. However, if you can't work it in anywhere else, I don't think you will find it unbearable.

If you plan on going to Jewel Cave, I highly recommend advance reservations, weekend or weekday.

You mention staying in Custer and Wall (Frontier Cabins), and you also speak of staying in Rapid City. This is a lot of moving around for such a short window of time. In some vacation areas, moving pays off, but not necessarily in the Black Hills. If you really didn't want to move around, you could base in Custer the entire time (although your trip to the Badlands would be a full day trip). If you are unsure about where to stay in Rapid, I don't think I'd move, unless you have a very EARLY flight out. Just as a example, the Badlands are only about an hour from Rapid.

I think we could help you better if we knew your full itinerary. You ask on what to do when, but we aren't sure what you are looking to see. Things that interest you might not appeal to us, or vice versa. If you haven't already done so, be sure to order a travel planner at travelsd.com.

Framingham
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58 posts
186 reviews
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2. Re: weekend more crowded?

we arrive late from our flight and will stay over in rapid city as won't want to drive. flight involves a change of planes and a time difference.

next day will head to custer for 5 nights. then will leave to badlands for 2 nights. last AM will involve a very early departure for airport. could switch last night closer to airport but didn't want to move again.

not planning on doing much in rapid city. interested in black hills area, rushmore maybe AM and PM. , crazy horse. custer state park, wildlife drives, probably several times, other scenic drives, spearfish, maybe bear attraction. sylvan lake,

badlands want to do sunset and sunrise.

besdies rushmore and jewel cave which we may not do what else to avoid on weekend. assuming spearfish might be quieter?

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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3. Re: weekend more crowded?

I would try to avoid Sylvan Lake on a weekend, since they have boat rentals and swimming. Going early to many of these places will help if you find it fits to go on a weekend. (i.e. Wildlife Loop) You talk about crowds, but just keep in mind this area is fairly quiet most of the time, IMO. It's not like being at Yosemite in summer, or Disney World, for that matter. I think you will really be pleasantly surprised.

For 5 nights, your itinerary seems light. Do you plan on seeing Devil's Tower, maybe when you go out to Spearfish? How about Deadwood? Any interest? You have some wild west history here, plus the casinos. Bear Country is fun, as is Reptile Gardens, which is practically right next door. I'd recommend Wind Cave, but it sounds like you might be looking to avoid the caves??

If you enjoy museums, there's the Gutzon Borglum Story in Keystone, but it can be a bit repetitive since you will be seeing the Rushmore Visitor's Center. Since you are staying in Custer, you might be interested in the laser light show at Crazy Horse. There's a chuckwagon dinner at Blue Bell Lodge that's highly recommended, or you could take a jeep tour in Custer SP.

Just some thoughts..you might prefer to just spend time relaxing at your hotel, depending on your travel style. I just know I like being busy.

Framingham
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58 posts
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4. Re: weekend more crowded?

we are not big hikers. what is there at devils tower besides hiking?

will really have 4 1/2 days I guess in blackhills and 1 1/2 days in badlands.

you think we have too much time and not enough to do? tend to like a slower pace.

South Dakota
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5. Re: weekend more crowded?

I think you should be fine with crowds. Most S.D. schools start school around Aug. 25th, and many of the small districts start even earlier.

If you don't care for hiking, you do not need even a full day at the Badlands. There's one primary loop and it took us about 2 1/2 hours to drive it, stopping to take pictures frequently. If you want to photograph sunset and sunrise, you might want to go kill time in Wall in between.

Have you thought about basing out of Hill City instead of Custer? Hill City is in a great central location, has a grocery store, and it would not be as far to drive for an early morning flight to Rapid.

Framingham
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6. Re: weekend more crowded?

yes but I don't think the motels are as nice. anything you would recommend in hill city?

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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7. Re: weekend more crowded?

Joanel,

Just being at Devil's Tower and seeing its massive size is wonderful. You don't have to be hikers to go. There's an easy 2 mile paved trail around the base that anyone can do. It's also neat to watch the climbers if there are any there that day. There's a prairie dog town outside the monument that's fun.

I also agree that you really don't need all that time in the Badlands. If you want to do sunrise/sunset, I think 1 night would be fine. The park is more for driving through, but there are few short hikes that I think you'd enjoy. They are very easy.

Yes, I do think your activites are light, but that may suit you just fine. I think I like to cram more in, but that may not be your style.

As far as hotels not being as nice in Hill City, I think you could find something to suit you. The Holiday Inn Express is highly rated on this site, and although I have not stayed there, it looks very neat and clean on the outside. You mentioned you wanted a kitchenette, but I don't know if they have those. Hill City would be closer to Rapid for your flight..probably about 30-40 mins away.

South Dakota
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8. Re: weekend more crowded?

We rented a house called Good Shepherd Lodge (gslodge.net) in Hill City and it was immaculate. It may be more space than you want, though. The price for one night is steep, but the cost per night goes down the more nights you stay. There are good deals to be found renting private vacation homes in the area. We, like you, like to get a place with a kitchen. I agree with the post about the H.I. Express there. I almost booked a room there because of the good reviews. Wherever you decide to stay, have fun and enjoy your trip!

Edited: 8:49 pm, March 12, 2012
Custer, South...
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9. Re: weekend more crowded?

Custer is centrally located to all the major attractions in the Black Hills including Jewel Cave (15 min away), Wind Cave (30 min away), Custer State Park (5 min away), Crazy Horse (5 min away), Mt. Rushmore (25 min away), Wild Horse Sanctuary (55 min away), Mammoth Site (40 min away), and Needles Hwy (10 min away). Right in Custer we have Flintstones Theme Park, National Museum of Woodcarving, Grizzly Gulch Mini Golf, and The Grand Magic Show.

The Holiday Inn Express is a very nice hotel with a great continental breakfast, clean rooms and a beautiful patio in back with a large waterfall. You will be located right in town, which will help you confidently get around. You can easily spend a few days in Custer State Park while driving the Wildlife Loop Road, Iron Mountain Road and Needles Hwy. You will have plenty of opportunities to take pictures of buffalos, big horn sheep and make sure you feed the burrows! I recommend going to Crazy Horse in the early afternoon so you have time to visit their museum, eat at their great restaurant and enjoy one of the largest laser light shows in the world! You will be less than 5 minutes away from your hotel.

Mt. Rushmore also has a must see Evening Lighting Ceremony that starts at 8:00 pm.

There are many more exciting things to do in the Black Hills, so for more information please visit our website: www.custersd.com!

Rapid City, South...
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10. Re: weekend more crowded?

While you are in Rapid City, make sure to check out Downtown Rapid City's newest addition: Main Street Square, it hosts festivals, events, farmers markets and so much more. You can find some great places to stay Downtown too... everything from food to attractions is walking distance downtown.