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Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

Pittsburgh...
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Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

Hi all! I finally had some time to draft an itinerary for our trip. If the folks from the South Dakota tourism office read this forum, that SD travel guide is AWESOME!! The map and suggested road trips on pages 112-113 is so helpful.

If you could take a quick look and tell me if I'm trying to do too much (or maybe not enough) in a day, I'd really appreciate it. We're going to stay at the K Bar S Lodge the whole week and do day trips from there. I spend a LOT of time taking photos wherever we go, and my hubby is a history buff, so he reads all the descriptive signs, etc. (this means that we'll prob. spend a little more time at each attraction than the average family) We're a family of 4, our boys are 18 and 20.

DAY 1: our flight arrives in Rapid City around 1:30; pick up rental car, drive to Keystone, see Mt. Rushmore evening lighting ceremony.

DAY 2: Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Sylvan Lake, 1880 train. (Ques: can you board 1880 train in both Hill City and Keystone, or just Hill City? Since we're staying in Keystone, should we board in Hill City and explore that area while we're waiting for the train?)

DAY 3: Custer State Park, Mammoth Site, Wind Cave

DAY 4: Lots of driving today, will get early start - head to Belle Fourche to see center of nation, then on to Devils Tower, home via Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. I know Deadwood is usually included in this area, but we're not into gambling at all, so we won't mind if we don't have time to see Deadwood or Lead.

DAY 5: Fun day after spending prior day in the car - Presidents' Alpine Slide/Tram, Chapel in the Hills, Cosmos Mystery Area (thanks, slrtravelplanner, for suggesting this to somebody else!), Circle B trail ride and chuckwagon dinner.

DAY 6: Wall Drug, Badlands National Park (Badlands Scenic Byway), Minuteman Missile Site.

DAY 7: Our flight home is at 1:30, so maybe we'll go into Rapid City in the morning to see the Presidents' statues on the street corners? Is it worth it?

I didn't include Jewel Cave - maybe we can add that if some outdoor activity gets rained out. Or do you think we can fit Jewel Cave in with everything else one day? And there's always mini-golf and the president's wax museum in Keystone if our activities end late afternoon and we're looking for something to do. Plus I think I read that the K Bar S has some hiking trails on the property, so we can check those out, too.

What do you think? Is this do-able? Thanks so much for your suggestions!

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

Looks like a great plan. If time permits drive thru Deadwood and go to the cemetery. If your husband is a history buff like me then he will enjoy seeing the famous people buried at Mt. Moriah.

Lincoln, NE
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2. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

In case you don't know, you need reservations to take a tour at the Minuteman Missile site.

Pitman, New Jersey
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3. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

Hi MamaGrumpy!

Your plans have taken great shape!

Now to answer a few of your questions:

You can board the 1880 train in either Hill City or Keystone. When we rode, we took the train from Keystone (We were staying in Keystone as well) to Hill City and arrived there in time to have lunch at the Alpine Inn, which I highly recommend. We took a later afternoon train back to Keystone. You don't have to return on the next train, which sometimes people don't realize. The shops in Hill City are nice also.

I'd really try to include Jewel Cave in your itinerary, if possible. I was just looking at how you might be able to restructure your time. You could possibly put it in day 5 and move the Alpine Slide or Chapel in the Hills to your last day. I think I'd opt out of seeing the statues in Rapid City compared to the other sights you can check out. We haven't done the slide, but the Chapel is beautiful, and the visit can be as long or short as you'd like. We went there one evening, and honestly, we got so involved in speaking to the caretakers that we wound up being there close to 2 hours. They were wonderfully friendly people. Whenever you decide to do Jewel Cave, try to get advance reservations, as the tours book quickly, and you could waste a lot of time waiting to get on one.

Your hubby will enjoy the historical aspects of Deadwood if time permits. The Adams House and Museum are quite good, and you have Mt. Moriah Cemetery as CeCe mentioned.

Depending on how much you enjoy getting out of your car, you might find your day 3 a bit full. Some spend a day devoted to Custer SP, but you are splitting up the time a bit by including Sylvan Lake in Day 2. I can't recommend deleting any activity from day 3, however, as all are worthwhile.

Day 2 could also be full. Since your hubby enjoys history, he will certainly find the history behind Crazy Horse fascinating..every bit as much as Rushmore. On Day 2, if you find your time gets a bit busy, you could possibly opt to eliminate the train ride.

Glad you are considering the Cosmos. I haven't been there yet, but many really enjoy it.

Overall, I think your plan is workable, and you can substitute different activities pursuant to weather as you mentioned.

Please let us know if we can continue to help, and we'd love to read a trip report when you return!

Pittsburgh...
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4. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

Thanks so much for your suggestions! I'll try to see if we can fit in Jewel Cave - I'd really like to do both caves, but Wind Cave was in the same general area as Custer SP and the Mammoth Site, so I figured we stood a better chance of Wind Cave.

Glad to hear I can skip the president statues in Rapid City; I was iffy on that, just kind of figured it was something different and might as well see it if we can.

Skip the 1880 train? Just about every brochure and website recommends doing it. Is it geared toward kids? I read somewhere that the train goes in the middle of nowhere so you can see some stuff that you can't see from the roads. What gives?

It's funny - when I first started planning this trip last fall, I originally thought of doing Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone both in one week. And now, one week isn't enough time to see everything in just the Mt. Rushmore area! :)

Everett, Washington
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5. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

On way to Devils Tower take WY-111 at Exit 199 in Wyoming and take north side frontage road back east for about 2 miles to the Vore Buffalo Jump. You will have seen it on the right side when you go by at about mile 113 or 114. Big sinkhole where the native peoples drove Bison over the cliff and then processed them leaving bones and artifacts tens of feet deep. University of Wyoming has a research dig there and there is a new visitor center. Very interesting. The educational foundation now charges $4 but has plans for a much larger visitor center with more exhibits. Not a lot of people know about it since it is not commercial and not advertised.

http://www.vorebuffalojump.org/

Then proceed north on 111 to Aladdin and west on 24 to Devils Tower making a loop back to the freeway afterward.

edit: jusr re-read OP and see Belle Fourche part. Catch Vore on way back.

Edited: 5:35 pm, March 03, 2010
Pitman, New Jersey
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6. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

It's amazing to see all the attractions in the travel guide, isn't it? Many try to do SD and Yellowstone in one trip--very common, but IMO, it's better to make them 2 trips. There's just so much to see in both areas.

As for the train, it is a nice ride, but I'm not a big train lover, so maybe I'm not the person to ask. I wouldn't say it's geared toward kids. The ride does take you through some wooded areas and offers views of Harney Peak, but to me, the scenery is better along the Needles Hwy and Sylvan Lake. The landscape here is some of the best in the area.

Some people truly enjoy trains, and if you and your family do , then by all means, keep it on the itinerary. I just know that I could spend a morning each at both Rushmore and Crazy Horse, and if you take the time to walk around Sylvan Lake, time could start flying by. With your hubby's love of history and your enjoyment of photography, you will probably find yourselves becoming engrossed in everything...(such a good thing!) Sylvan is a photographer's paradise.

I admit to being much more of a cave fan than a train fan, thus my recommendation for trying to include Jewel Cave. :)

Whatever you decide, you are going to have a great time. As you said, you can easily spend a week here and not see everything. Just reasons to return!

Pittsburgh...
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7. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

Sequim88 - thanks for the suggestion of the Vore Buffalo Jump. I printed out the info and will show it to my family and see if they're interested. That is certainly something different - I'd never heard of that before!

Kansas City, MO
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8. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

Concerning the 1880 train - if you are going in the summer, be prepared for the heat. We took the train 2 summers ago and it really is an 1880 train, no amenities, no air conditioning and it was a very hot ride. They do have sodas available for purchase on the train however.

The kids may get bored and there is so much to do in just Keystone alone, you may not want to take the time for the train.

They will love the Alpine Slide - my daughter did this 3 times the last time we were there!

This is such a great area to vacation in! There is so much to see and do that we keep going back year after year to see the things we missed.

columbia, maryland
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9. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

we r arrivng in june also. u should try to see wounded knee. while quite downtrodden, the historical significance cant be matched. We r also going to try to make it to the petrified forest in Kadoka.

Omaha, NE
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10. Re: Tentative Itinerary for our June Trip

Regarding the Alpine Slide...at the top is a wonderful little restaurant with some of the best cheeseburgers we've EVER tasted! So if you can, plan your Alpine Slide visit near a meal time so you can get some cheeseburgers at the top!

Also -- if I remember correctly, they only take CASH (no debit cards, checks or credit cards) and their burgers were a little on the pricey side (around $7 I think). They also have beer, etc. There are some good views at the top if you want to hike around a bit!

We didn't "slide" down -- we took the lift -- but the slide looked fun. You can also buy a photo of yourself on the lift or slide at the bottom (of course).