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Updated itinerary....anything else?

Minneapolis...
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Updated itinerary....anything else?

Thanks everyone so far for your help and comments on my previous thread.

It’s a good thing that the itinerary was LOOSE as I have changed it about 18 times with your ideas and information.

I originally wanted to do Spearfish Canyon on our Devil’s Tower day but wasn’t sure if there would be enough time, but I think I have worked around that.

Going to Crazy Horse is still somewhat up in the air. Once we’re there we may just want to include it.

We’ll either do the gold panning on the Spearfish drive or in Hill City.

Is the town of Custer worth spending any time in or would we see enough in Hill City and Keystone?

sirtravelplanner, you have sold me on the 1880 train and the Discovery portion of Jewel Cave. For the train I’m going to send the family one way and I’ll drive to Hill City. This for two reasons, I think the one trip will be enough for the kids and I don’t want to be tied to a departure and then spend an additional hour. When we are done in Hill City we can just leave. I know its some backtracking but the train times and lunch wouldn’t fit right. If only the schedule were reversed. Reptile Gardens is still a good possibility, as the kids enjoyed Alligator Adventure when we were in Myrtle Beach. I too am wondering how “Roadside” Bedrock City is, I’ll let you know if we decided on that one. Maybe we’ll just send grandma in to check it out.

Thanks Sequim88 for the info on the Mount Rushmore ceremony time. I would imagine that we would need to arrive between 7 and 7:30. I think I have solved the problem so we are not rushing for it.

So here’s the updated LOOSE itinerary:

Since it’s a 10 hour drive we will leave Saturday late afternoon and get down the road. Stay overnight in Sioux Falls and finish driving in on Sunday. Now if we get to our cabin early enough and settle in, then we could try and do the Mount Rushmore evening lighting. If we can’t, then we still have four more evenings to try for it.

Monday: The town of Custer depending on responses to the above question. Peter Nobeck byway, Mount Rushmore (daytime), then finish the byway. Maybe include some of Keystone or the evening lighting if we missed it the previous night.

Tuesday: Spearfish Canyon drive, Devil’s Tower, and Belle Fourche.

Wednesday: Get going early. Spend the morning in Keystone and take 1880 train 11:15am to Hill City. Shop and have lunch at Alpine Inn. Go to the WaTiki waterpark in Rapid City about 4pm for a couple hours.

Thursday: Discovery portion of Jewel Cave. Custer State Park. Chuckwagon dinner. I think there may be extra time this day to see something we missed or want to see again.

Friday: Check out of cabin and 3 hours in Badlands then on to Mitchell, SD and stay the night.

Saturday: Return home.

We will still have the breakfasts in the cabin and I’m thinking picnic lunch every day except Wednesday when we have lunch at the Alpine Inn.

Please, any feedback on this itinerary?

At some point I will need to make reservations for the train and the chuckwagon dinner so the itinerary can’t remain LOOSE.

Thanks so much.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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1. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

Hi again,

I like the updated itinerary!

In response to your question about Custer, it was not my favorite of the 3 towns---Hill City, Keystone & Custer. It has an older feel than the others. We stopped there briefly, but we didn't spend a lot of time. Most of the time was spent at a used book shop where our daughter bought some reading material for the car and plane. The best shops are in Hill City, IMO. Keystone is more souvenirs and tourist traps; Keystone should be called home of the T Shirt Shop.

I think you will be thanking yourself for splitting up the 10 hour drive going out. To me, your days are not overplanned, so everyone can enjoy.

Your plan to drive to Hill City instead of taking the train will enable you to make the most of your time and is fine as long as you don't mind missing the ride. :) You are going to love the Alpine Inn.

The gold panning is easily fit in. Depending on how much time you spend on lunch/shops in Hill City, maybe you could hit Wade's, or Broken Boot is a possibility on the way back from Devil's Tower if you need a leg stretch. You might even be able to pan at Big Thunder in Keystone, once again, depending on the amount of time you spend at the shops. We stayed in Keystone but didn't spend too much time in the town itself. All the shops looked the same after a while.

I am so glad I sold you on Jewel Cave. You mention about making reservations for the train and chuckwagon dinner. I wouldn't be too concerned about the train, but I would definitely make reservations for Jewel Cave to maximize your time. The Visitor's Center is quite small, and there are no surface activities other the center and Jr. Ranger Program for the kids. As a side note, no purses, backpacks, camera cases, fanny packs, etc. are permitted inside the cave. I wore my camera around my neck and we locked the valuables in our trunk.

Thursday sounds like a relatively light day. You will see a lot of Custer SP when you drive the Norbeck Byway, so as you said, this would be a good day to fit in Crazy Horse (it's not too far from Jewel Cave), or maybe even the Reptile Gardens. If you catch the lighting ceremony on Sunday night, you might be able to fit Reptile Gardens in Monday night, depending on everyone's energy level.

You are going to have a great time! Let us know if you have any more questions, and please share your travels with us when you return.

Bemidji, Minnesota
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for Yellowstone National Park
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2. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

I think you will be disappointed in doing just the discovery tour in Jewel Cave. Unless you have a heart condition, claustrophobia or a heart condition, I think you would prefer the scenic tour. It sounds a lot tougher than it is. The ranger leading the hike takes it slow and easy with stops along the way. In out mid-50's, my wife and I had no problem with this nor did the gentleman ahead of us who appeared to be in his 70's.

While in the Badlands, try to find the "Big Pig Dig". This archaeological dig was sparked by a chance find by a tourist out for a stretch and has yielded much information about the climate and animals that were typical to the area long before people were in America.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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3. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

RM,

I, too, would prefer the Scenic Tour at Jewel. Our family personally did this and REALLY enjoyed it. We have been on quite a few cave tours, and Jewel was actually one of the easier ones we have done despite the ominous amount of steps described. They are excellent, steel quality and really not steep.

The only reason I recommended the Discovery Talk was based on Family Circus' first post. They are travelling with Grandma and were not inclined to hiking more than short walks and wanted "no cave tours." I had mentioned the possibility of either the Discovery Talk or possibility splitting up so that either the husband or wife could take the kids into the cave. I thought the kids (and adults) would really enjoy an "underground adventure." It looks like Family Circus chose the 20 minute tour. The good thing---if they really enjoy it and find themselves "wanting more," they could always check into the possibilty of booking the scenic tour if time allows on the trip.

Iowa
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4. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

We did the train ride several years ago. It broke down. We were stuck in the middle for over an hour. Hotter than well you know! I can't really remember if the kids enjoyed it once it was moving again! Just remember that it was miserable being stuck. Don't know if that is a common problem or just or unlucky day!

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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5. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

Hopefully this was an isolated incident, but I guess just about anything can happen! That must have been very aggravating. This is the first I have heard about it breaking down. Luckily, we rode without any troubles.

North Dakota
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6. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

Hi familycircus,

Jumping in at the tail end of your planning, here's my take on WaTiKi and Bedrock City.

We went to WaTiKi on a rainy, cold day during our visit in 2007. My kids were 2, 5, and 9 and they love the water, however they were ready to leave here after about an hour and a half. The slides and lazy river were alright, but the play area for the younger kids included a huge bucket of cold water at the top of the structure which would dump out unexpectedly, with more force than our sturdy 5 year old could handle. The air temp in the waterslide area was a bit too cool too, possibly due to the chilly air outside. I believe there's an outdoor waterslide park in the area that might be more fun.

On to Bedrock. If your kids are young and have seen reruns of the cartoon, they may get a kick out of this. If it was a favorite show of some of the adults they may enjoy it more. As roadside attractions go, its pretty good. The sculptures seemed to be in good repair with fresh, bright paint and the pathways were in good shape. There are lots of opportunities to pose for photos with character sculptures and in Flintstones cars. If Grandma is concerned about a lot of walking she can cut through the gift shop after she pays her entrance fee. The entrance fee includes a ride in a gas powered Flintstones car and a playground and possibly a ride on the train.

Minneapolis...
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7. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

Thanks again for all your replies.

I won't mind missing the train ride. Having my car and the flexibility means more to me.

Grandma just got her SD travel packet yesterday that I secretly ordered for her. I think she stayed up late reading and folding pages of things shes interested in. We'll see how they fit into the itinerary and what may need to be changed. I think shes really starting to get excited.

I'll keep you updated.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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8. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

Please let us know if we can help in any other ways after Grandma reviews the travel guide. I remember the first I ever looked at one of those guides! I was amazed at how much was there to see and do. She was probably surprised too. Have fun planning!

9. Re: Updated itinerary....anything else?

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