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trip with 45 youth

West Michigan
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trip with 45 youth


we are going on a missions trip to the badlands area June 5th-13th. there are a total of 35 teens and 10 leaders who will be working on the Pine River Indian reservation. We are camping at the KOA campground in Interior (badlands). I have a couple of questions re. the trip.

1. we are cooking the meals and since we are camping, we will need to restock 1/2 way thru our trip. We will need general things, but in larger quantities, (such as chicken for 45, buns for 45, etc...).

we were told that there is a small grocery store in the area? would this be 'large' enough to meet our needs? If not, were is the closest one that would be recommended?

2. we have a free day on Friday (all day). We have vehicles and obviously would like to go to the badlands national park. Is there any where else that would be do-able that you would say is a "DONT MISS" for a group of high schoolers? If so, how far away is it and what time should be allotted to see it?

3- how far is wall drug and would that be worth a visit with this group. what are the prices like to eat there?

thanks in advance for any help, and if you have any other suggestions, it would be appreciated.

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Rapid City, SD
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1. Re: trip with 45 youth

There isn't much in the Pine Ridge/Wall area but I'm sure the grocery store in Wall will have supplies, if not exactly what you're looking for or the exact quantities, but they should have enough to get you by. However, I think it would be worth it to make the drive to Rapid City and hit the Walmart or Sams Club considering the quantities of things you'd need.

I think that it would be a shame to bring kids this far and not take them to Mt Rushmore. You could make it a quick stop on your free day and then spend the rest of the time in Custer State Park which would be enjoyable for that age youth. Or you could do Custer State Park first and then do the lighting ceremony at Mt Rushmore at the end of the day and then make the trip back to camp. It would make for a really long day and late night though.

Wall Drug is really just a huge tourist trap. Its very kitschy. Think a few displays with animated wood carvings and a Jackalope display and souvenir shopping. Its the kind of place you go to just to say you did - like seeing the world's largest ball of yarn. I wouldn't spend time on going there if it meant not seeing a national monument instead.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: trip with 45 youth

To address your question regarding things to do on your free day, there are several possibilities. Since you will be camping in the edge of the badlands, it would be logical to spend some time exploring this beautiful and unique area. However, it would be a shame to come all the way from Michigan and not at least see Mt. Rushmore. Will you have any evenings free? If so, you could explore the Badlands after your day of work. It usually stays light until around 9:30/10 p.m. this time of the year and we have seen some spectacular sunsets in the Badlands. (Stargazing is great there too.) If I am not mistaken, I believe the rangers have a evening presentation and a moonlight hike. The town of Wall is a short 25/30 mile drive from Interior if taking I-90. If you take the scenic route through the Badlands, more like 45 mins to an hour. Wall is considered by many to be a tourist trap. Souvenirs of every kind can be found from cheap to expensive. I believe you can find some video games the teens might be interested in but IMO most of the attractions are geared to younger children. Wall Drug has a cafeteria style restaurant with reasonable prices and there are several cafes on the main drag that are also reasonable.

If at all possible, I would spend your day off in the Mt. Rushmore/Custer State Park area in the Black Hills. It would probably take about an hour and a half to get into the Black Hills. I think your teens would enjoy spending some time in the town of Keystone 3 miles from Mt. Rushmore. CSP is full of wildlife, gorgeous scenery, hiking and swimming. If the weather permits, spend some time at Sylvan Lake swimming. The Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road are included in the top 10 scenic drives in the US and are must drives if time allows. (Although, if you are driving a bus you might reconsider these two drives. Vans, no problem.) You probably will not be able to do it all but talk to the kids and see what interests them the most. Go to this link and order the Vacation Guide. It might give you some other ideas. http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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3. Re: trip with 45 youth

You've gotten some great suggestions from ALB and Mountainmama. Custer SP is really the place to be on your free day, and I agree with Wall Drug is really a tourist trap. The signs alone along the interstate are enough to drive anyone crazy, and the attractions are pretty hokey.

Agree if you are driving buses, you probably won't be able to do Iron Mt. Rd and the Needles, but the Wildlife Loop is do-able, as is the Sylvan Lake area.

If you happen to come upon rainy weather on your open day, you could also consider Jewel or Wind Caves. Wind Cave National Park joins the Wildlife Loop, so the 2 could be combined. However, I admit that I prefer Jewel Cave. It has prettier formations and is a more open cave.

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West Michigan
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4. Re: trip with 45 youth

thank you all for your very helpful suggestions! We are taking vans (a couple of 15 passenger and a couple mini-vans) so it sounds like any of the above routes would be do-able. Never even considered the possiblity of doing the badlands in the evening during the week, but with the close proximity, that is definetly an option and will leave more time for exploring on friday. Thanks again, and if anyone has any additional suggestions, I would gladly welcome them!

5. Re: trip with 45 youth

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