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Itinerary 1st draft...help please!

Minnesota
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Itinerary 1st draft...help please!

Ok, I think I’ve got a better handle on what our plans are for our mid September trip west! I’ve got some questions along the way so please advise in anyway you all are extremely helpful. Thanks for your patience as this got pretty long.

Day 1 (Wed) – Early start from central MN. First stop in De Smet (I’m a huge Laura fan and the dog will need a walk by then anyway). Does anyone know about this 16 point driving/walking tour? I’m hoping for no more than an hour walking the dog and seeing some of the points mentioned in the book. Travel on and do the Badland Loop and Wall Drug then on to Keystone for check in and anniversary dinner at Powder House Lodge.

Day 2 (Thurs) – Leaving the dog behind today. Be at Mt. Rushmore when they open for some pictures, hiking and the museum. Then back into Keystone for the Alpine slide with an early lunch at the top. Take 244 and 16 for a Crazy Horse drive by (this doesn’t interest us enough to look into the museum) for a 2:00 or 2:40 Jewel Cave Scenic Tour. Then back to the Lodge and probably back to Mt. Rushmore for lighting ceremony is the entrance fee just good for one day?

Day 3 (Fri) – We plan on bringing the dog along so let us know if that wouldn’t be a good idea, if we add in the horseback riding and depending on the weather we’ll have to re-think it. I know the backtracking is unavoidable but I’m hoping this isn’t too bad. We’ll get an early start and travel down Iron Mt Rd and do the loop (clockwise) early. When we get to 87 we’ll go down and explore Wind Cave National Park area. I think we’ll decided after Jewel cave whether or not to do another tour. Then on to option #1 – lunch and horseback riding at Blue Bell stables or #2 continue on to State Game Lodge for their lunch buffet. Then in the afternoon we’ll head up to the Sylvan Lake area and play there for the remainder of the afternoon. We’ll head back to Powder House Lodge taking Needles Hwy South and then North on Iron Mt Road for the views through the tunnels.

Day 4 (Sat) – Pack up the dog and head North on 385 to Lead and do the Spearfish Falls Scenic Byway hitting all the good stopping points. Then, depending on how sick of driving we are (which is doubtful as we just got a new Acadia ;)) we’ll decide about Devils Tower. If we decide to go on to Devil’s Tower should we head there first and then Spearfish falls on the way back or as previously mentioned? That will also dictate where we have lunch…I’ve heard good things about Cheyenne Crossing. Does anyone have good suggestions our in the Devil’s Tower area if we’re there around lunch time? Actually, no matter how we do it I don’t think we’ll be in the Cheyenne Crossing area over lunch. Anyway, we’ll probably just make the loop and take 90 back into Rapid City. We’ve got relatives there and that will maybe be a good night for us to meet up and do dinner or something. However, if we meet them at a different time it could be open to head back to Custer as I think that will be a highlight!

Day 5 (Sun) – Heading back East early. If we can swing it at work I’m hoping to spend the night at Cedar Pass Lodge. If that’s the case we’d adjust a few things like making it a quicker stop on the way out and not get such an early start this morning. I sure would love to see the sunset/rise!

So, what do you think? Thanks much again for your opinions!

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Itinerary 1st draft...help please!

Your plan sounds very doable. My only concern would be what are you going to do with your dog when your are doing something the dog can't. To answer your question regarding the entrance fee at Mt. Rusmore, it is a one time fee per year but you will need to save your receipt. You also asked about which you should go to first, Devils Tower or Spearfish Canyon. One thing to keep in mind that the lighting in the canyon is better for photo ops in the late morning and in the afternoon because of the canyon walls. Devils Tower would be easy to photograph almost anytime during daylight hours. However, Spearfish Canyon would be less out of your way if you did that first, especially since you want to take I-90 straight to Rapid City. When in Spearfish Canyon, make sure you see Roughlock Falls, Spearfish Falls (a short hike behind Latchstring Inn near the lodge) and Bridal Veil Falls. I can't help you with any meal suggestions near Devils Tower since we always eat at Cheyenne Crossing when we are up in that area. Devils Tower is only a little over an hour from Spearfish Canyon.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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2. Re: Itinerary 1st draft...help please!

I also agree that your plan is do-able. I was just wondering, however, if there's a particular reason you want to get to Keystone and Powder House Lodge the 1st day, other than it being your anniversary. If you would be willing to delay your dinner a day, I think I would opt to stay at Cedar Pass on day 1 so you could perhaps see your sunrise/sunset there. I know sunlight has a dramatic effect on the rock formations, as we just experienced this in southern Utah. I have not seen a sunrise/sunset at the Badlands, but I would imagine it would be awesome. If you get an early start, you could still make it to Rushmore in the a.m... Ah...as I am reading this, I am thinking I'm not considering your dog, so maybe this isn't workable. I was just trying to eliminate some backtracking, but this may not be possible with the dog.

As mountainmama said, be sure to save your receipt for the parking fee at Rushmore. Also, I'd recommend advance reservations at Jewel Cave.

Also, I'd highly recommend touring Wind Cave, as it's significantly different from Jewel.

I, too, would do Devil's Tower first and head for Spearfish Canyon on the way back.

I would also be a little concerned about your pet and what it will do while your eating at one of the lodges, etc. For instance, on day 3, if you do take a cave tour, that would mean the dog would have nowhere to go for at least an hour, depending on what tour you do.

Minnesota
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3. Re: Itinerary 1st draft...help please!

Thank you both for your help and suggestions! All of the points you brought up are points that we're still mulling around in our heads too :) I also should have mentioned that days 2,3 and 4 could easily be swapped depending on weather etc. So if we would stay at Cedar Pass that first night (which is an option I had been considering too) we wouldn't necessarily have to be at Mt. Rushmore in the morning but we could go to Devil's Tower for instance that day...I aslo don't know for sure when we're meeting the relative either. And thanks for clearing that up about the Mt. Rushmore pass. I wasn't sure if it was good for the day, for the week or for the year....so we could go back any night we had time! As you can see nothing is set in stone (barely pencil!) so thanks again!

Moline, IL
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4. Re: Itinerary 1st draft...help please!

How interesting - we are staying at powder house with our dog next week too! This is our first time in black hills and I've been looking over the board for info as well. A couple of notes - The alpine slide closes the day after labor day for the season so that's a no go (we wanted to do that too) and I saw online that dogs aren't allowed on any trails at Devil's Tower so we are considering not doing it.

Our dog is just fine this time of year staying in the car while we eat a meal or staying in the lodge for a short trip out like to the lighting ceremony at mt. rushmore but I don't think we'll leave her long term in the cabin for a day because I'm afraid of her eventually barking in a new environment (she's not a barky dog)

Minnesota
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5. Re: Itinerary 1st draft...help please!

What are the dates you're going? You'll have to let me know how it all goes :) I have since realized that about the Alpine Slide :( And we've also scratched the Devil's Tower trip. I have also since read about dogs not being allowed on the trails in the Badlands as well.

Now that I look back at my post we've made a lot of changes! We're staying our first night at Cedar Pass Lodge in the Badlands and then on day two going up to Spearfish and doing the fish hatchery and scenic drives up there then hading back to check into Powder House Lodge. We'll keep Custer and such on day three and then day four will be the Mt. Rushmore etc day (minus the side :( ).

Enjoy your trip!

6. Re: Itinerary 1st draft...help please!

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