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Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

Wisconsin
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Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

We have been to the area before but I have some questions about certain activities. We will be in the area for 6 or 7 days starting July 9th and it will be my husband and I and our 3 kids (8, 5, and 4).

1) Which cave would be best to visit? (wind, jewel, big thunder, black hills caverns, wonderland, or rushmore) Also are they like each other? Or are there drastic differences between them. Just wondering if one would be sufficient.

2) Is it worth it to visit some of the state parks (palisades, split rock, bear butte)? We do state parks every Sunday in Wisconsin but I am wondering if we should spend more time on other activities. We will do Custer, possibly Devils' Gulch, and Falls park.

Thanks! Any other advice is greatly appreciated.

I will probably ask more questions in the next couple of days. ;)

Iowa
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1. Re: Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

We only did two caves on our recent trip, but thought they were very different. I would recommend doing both if you have the time. We did Jewel Cave (scenic tour) and Wind Cave (natural entrance tour). Both are run by the National Parks service. From what I've read on Tripadvisor, these two caves are the ones recommended over other caves in the area. You can get advance reservations for Jewel Cave tours, since they seem to fill up very fast I'd recommend it. You can call up to seven days in advance. Wind Cave takes reservations for large tour groups only; we got to the visitor center as soon as it opened and there was already quite a line of people waiting for tickets. I would recommend getting there early to avoid possibly long waits for your tour time, if you go to Wind.

We only went to Custer State Park (stayed there), but I thought Bear Butte sounded very nice too. I'm pretty sure when you buy your seven day park pass for $15 it's good for any state parks in South Dakota.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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2. Re: Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

Hi Casey,

I have visited Wind, Jewel, Wonderland and Rushmore. Not sure on big thunder..do you mean Thunderhead Falls? If so, I've been there also.

Wonderland wasn't much at all. A person came to let us in and I think we were there all of 20 minutes. I would not recommend it,as it's a bit out of the way compared to others. We saw it on the way from Lead down to Keystone. No one was there except us and another couple.

Rushmore was fine, but none of the privately owned caves can hold a candle to the ones operated by nps. (Wind & Jewel). The rangers really make the parks and give excellent tours. The tour guides from the private caves just can't compete with the rangers. Their knowledge is unsurpassed. It's really amazing to compare the quality of the tours.

I would recommend seeing Wind & Jewel Caves. Jewel is a good cave to start with, particularly if the kids have not toured a cave before. It's very open and has interesting formations. Wind is quite different from Jewel, as it is known for its unique formation called boxwork. Boxwork resembles spiderwebs. Wind is a little more closed in, and some with claustrophobia find it too "close for them."

Also..if you are talking Thunderhead Falls, our daughter described this one as "creepy." She was 8 when she saw it. It is not a guided tour, and you basically walk down a long tunnel to the falls. It is very loud, and pics are tough due to all the spray. I would not bother with this one unless you have a surplus of time.

As for the state parks, I have only done Custer.

Have a great time!!

Wisconsin
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3. Re: Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

Thanks for all the help. We plan on going to Jewel and Wind caves as well as Big Thunder Gold Mine. It is not Thunderhead Falls which we did in 2007 and the kids thought it was neat. At that time we had a 5, 2, and 1 year old so the short trail into the mine worked perfect for us since we didn't want to do a long cave tour.

Here are a couple of other questions:

1) How would the Alpine slide be for an 8 year old? My husband and I would have to ride down with our 5 and 4 year old so she would have to go on her own. Any thoughts?

2) Saloon No 10 for a family? I have heard mixed reviews.

3) The Wounded Knee Museum; Dakota Discovery Museum; Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village; Adams House/Museum - Any thoughts on these

Thanks for any help you can give!

Rapid City, SD
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4. Re: Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

Your 8 year old would probably be able to do the Alpine Slide by herself. They can put her on the slower track and she can control the brake. I don't recall if they had a height restriction. My son is 11 but short for his age and we've gone the past few years with no problem for him.

I'm not sure if they let people under 21 in the Saloon #10 but if so then its probably okay for a family depending on how long you plan to be there and when. Its a saloon/bar so obviously its not really appropriate in the evening but earlier in the day its pretty quiet. There isn't really anything for them to do there so I'm not sure it would be worth it to take them. Upstairs from the Saloon is Deadwood Social Club which is a nice little restaurant and would be appropriate for your family. You could walk through Saloon #10 spend a few minutes looking around then walk upstairs for lunch or something.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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5. Re: Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

Hi Casey,

Ahh..I had a brain freeze last night..here I was fixated on caves and totally forgot about Big Thunder Gold Mine. This would be fine for your family, and they could even do some gold panning after the tour. It's relatively short..no more than an hour and is a pretty interesting story.

I am also a huge fan of the Adams House/Museum, particularly the house. We met a tour guide there who still keeps in touch with us to this day. He loved children and allowed our daughter to "assist" him with the tour. She had a blast. I'd highly recommend it!

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

The Saloon #10 actually has a re-inactment of the shooting of Wild Bill Hickock which is child friendly. We have seen many families there during the day. The Saloon is not only a bar but a museum full of Deadwood history and very interesting. I would not, however, take young children there in the evening. The atmosphere at night caters more towards adults and not families.

7. Re: Questions for a last minute trip??!!??

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