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Best place to stay and kid-friendly hiking

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Best place to stay and kid-friendly hiking

We're trying to plan a relatively spur of the moment trip to see Mt Rushmore in about a month. There will be 4 of us, me, hubby, 10yo and 5yo girls. We want to see Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the Wild Horse Sanctuary, maybe Bear Country, the Reptile place and/or Mammoth Site, and take a scenic drive, do a little light hiking.

What town would you stay in, that would be the most central to these activities?

Also, which scenic drive has the best kid-friendly trails for light hiking with a 5yo? I read about the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park, the Needles Hwy, Iron Mountain Road and Sylvan Lake. We'd like to be able to enjoy some scenery while we drive, and make a few stops along the way for hiking and exploring, maybe a picnic lunch. We'll only be in the area for about 3.5 days, so we probably need to choose just one drive/hike. Which one would you recommend?


Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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1. Re: Best place to stay and kid-friendly hiking

I would stay in Keystone, Hill City or Custer. My first choice would actually be Keystone..touristy, but you will probably not be in town long enough to find it bothersome. Hill City would be a close second.

We stayed at the Roosevelt Inn in Keystone. I have a review on this site if you would like to review it. We really liked this hotel.

For hikes, I would opt for the walk around Sylvan Lake. It's beautiful, and the kids like to climb on the boulders. Of course, close supervision is a must. This is a great place for a picnic. If you choose another hike, you really can't go wrong. I was just thinking Sylvan Lake is pretty flat and easily accessible. The scenery here is beautiful.

Enjoy your trip.

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2. Re: Best place to stay and kid-friendly hiking

There is some nice hiking at the Monuments and there is a nice hike around Devils' Tower that wouldn't be too much for the children. I agree Sylvan Lake is beautiful, so is Pactola. A good place to stay that is central is Spearfish or Deadwood. Deadwood has a lot of places to stay and the Trial, which my 14 year old niece really got a kick out of. (I prefer Spearfish) You can go to Devil's Tower (prairie dog village)through Belle Fourche and Alladin and back the freeway which will only take about 4 hours (depending on if you stop or hike) with plenty of time to do something else.

You can do Rushmore, Crazy Horse and probably Reptile Garden in a day easily. For scenic drives, the Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, and Spearfish Canyon are interesting and lovely. After the Iron Mountain and Needles drive, be sure to do the Wildlife Loof at Custer State Park.

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3. Re: Best place to stay and kid-friendly hiking

We were there on 6/6 - 6/9. We arrived in the evening of 6/6, stayed in Super 8 at Hot Springs all 3 nights. On 6/6 - drove the Custer State park wildlife loop. It took no more then couple of hours, which included stopping for picnic out of back of car. The day was beautiful, but cool. Then animals we saw were the wild burrows, whcih 2 were on the road greeting cars as they drove by, that was real cute. We saw a lot of buffalo, a couple of wild turkeys, plenty of prairie dogs and then making our way to Mt. Rushmore. We then went into Keystone for tourist shopping and then made our way back to Hot Springs. On Sunday, we went to Bear Country USA - which is HIGHLY RECCOMENDED! We are animal lovers, so I think we enjoyed that more then Mt. Rushmore. The drive through with the bears was un-believable. After the drive, you park and walk through babyland, which was just as amazing. You are just armlengths away from 10 baby bear cubs, we stood and watched them for over 30 minutes. I've always seen bear cubs on t.v, never in real life and to be that close was wow! It was about $30 plus for 2 adults and a 10 year old. My husband said that was worth the price! We drove and saw Crazy Horse/took pictures from the highway. I'm sure it would have been real interesting to visit, but we didn't. We Would have liked to stay in Keystone, but all the hotels were booked by the time I figured out what to do, and so were hotels in Custer, Hill City, Deadwood, that were still reasonbly priced. Our hotel in Hot Springs was great. It is further away, but can't beat the scenic drive to and from Hot Springs. Once you get there, any hotel will have the "Scenic Hills" highway map. We lived by that map while we were there. They are free and with all the other free pamplets - so get one for Crazy Horse, Bear Country USA, Mt. Rushmore, etc.... Well, I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, just aske, I'll be glad to help. God Bless You and your family as you travel, Sherrill

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4. Re: Best place to stay and kid-friendly hiking

I second Keystone. It's more centrally located.

We like Palmer Gulch.

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5. Re: Best place to stay and kid-friendly hiking

I third Keystone! I grew up there, so can't help but be partial. Hill City a very close second.

Another option for a great scenic drive and hiking with the children is up on Iron Mountain! Chances are good for running into wild buffalo up there. You drive through tunnels and winding roads and can see Mount Rushmore in a whole different view! It's beautiful up there! And they have plenty of places to turn off and take pictures. My second best recommendation would be up Spearfish Canyon!

Also, maybe look into going to the Cosmos (from Keystone heading towards Rapid City) may be a "really cool" adventure for the kids. I haven't been there since I was a young teen and still think it was quite the memorable experience!

You can stand on top of a hill and your children can stand below and they will be taller than you! Or sit in a chair hanging on a wall by the 2 back legs without fear of falling. I'll never forget that. It's was the only time of my life I was taller than my big brother! It was great!

When I take my grandchildren back there to visit, the Cosmos is first on my list of fun things to do with them!

My oldest son and his family were just up there last month and loved the Reptile Gardens....not good for those of us who hate snakes!

6. Re: Best place to stay and kid-friendly hiking

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