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Critique suggestions itinerary

Sydney, Australia
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Critique suggestions itinerary

Hi

Hubby and I are driving up from RMNP on Friday 10th June, we will be arriving late ( Overnight Custer). Hopefully we will arrive early enough to see the Crazy Horse Memorial (even if it is only from the roadside).

Day 1(Sat 11th)

1. Wildlife Loop Road (starting at eastern entrance)

2. Wind Cave National Park -Garden of Eden Cave Tour

3. Mt Coolidge Firetower via Wildlife Loop Road (hubby is in the Rural Fire Service)

4. Jewel Cave Tour -Scenic Tour

5. Needles Highway

6. Hike Sylvan Lake

7. Dinner ? Keystone

8. ? Mt Rushmore evening service (overnight Custer)

Day 2 (Sun 12th)

1. Iron Mountain Rd

2. Mt Rushmore -walk the Presidential Trail

3. Deadwood ?Kevin Costner's Original Deadwood Tour or visit the cemetary independently and Saloon No10

4. Tatanka 'The story of the Bison'

5. Devils Tower Monument, hike Tower Trail (overnight ???)

Day 3 (Mon 13th)

1. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (overnight Thermopolis)

Day 4 (Tues 14th)

1. The Wyoming Dinosaur Centre & Dig sites 4

2. Hot Springs NP for a quick soak, view Rainbow Terraces and the swinging bridge

3. Gunfight, Cody (Overnight Cody)

Day 5 (Wed 15th)

1. Buffalo Bill Historical Center

2. Buffalo Bill Dam

3. Rodeo (Overnight Cody)

Day 6 (Thurs 16th)

YNP

Thinking of basing ourselves at Custer? (I want to try to keep accommodation costs down if possible US$100pn)

Not sure if we can actually achieve everything listed in our first 2 days?

Would love to go to Bear World but obviously insufficient time if we do everything on our itinerary. We do have caves with stalagmites and stalactites not far from where I live, we don't have bears, Koalas don't count.

Where would you recommend staying on the Sunday after we leave Devils Tower?

I believe there is a scenic byway on route US 212, thought this may be nice route to get to Bighorn.

I realise we will spend most of Monday driving but this will give us a full day in Thermopolis and a full day in Cody.

I already have accommodation booked on the 16th - 20th in YNP.

Thank you in advance for all comments.

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Needles Highway
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Keystone
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Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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1. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Hi Julie,

I'm not familiar with all the places on your itinerary, but I will comment on what I can.

I think your Black Hills days might be a bit ambitious, depending on your travel style. You have thought out the route quite well, but I'm afraid you might not be taking into account making stops and touring times at the caves. It seems like it could turn into a whirlwind tour. I don't know how much you enjoy stopping, taking pictures, short walks, etc, but I don't think you will have much time if you keep the schedule intact.

On day 1, since you really only have 2 days in the hills, I'd eliminate one of the caves. I think this could help your time a bit. If you keep Jewel, make sure to have advance reservations. You are on too tight a schedule to not have them. Since you are doing the Wildlife Loop first, I'm sure you will make an early start. For dinner in Keystone, Big Time Pizza is really the best.

I haven't seen Tatanka, but from what I have read, I think it's a pretty quick stop. If you do Deadwood without the tour, it would probably be quicker, but on the downside, you probably wouldn't learn as much. You might see how time is running by that point. The tour is about an hour from what I read. What we have seen in Deadwood we have done ourselves.

I'm really not sure where you could fit Bear Country in. I think you'd have to eliminate an activity or see how time goes.

For this night, some stay in Sundance or Hulett. Buffalo and Sheridan might also be possibilities depending on how far out you want to go.

I have not been to Little Bighorn or Thermapolis, so I really can't 'comment there. Your day 5 is perfect...don't change a thing! Cody is wonderful!

Rt. 212 is the Beartooth Highway, which is gorgeous, but it's not near Devil's Tower at all. It would be too far out of the way to take this to Little Bighorn. I don't know where you are staying in Yellowstone, but you might be able to take the Beartooth and/or Chief Joseph Hwy from Cody to wherever you are staying in YNP. We did the Beartooth when we stayed in Gardiner, which is at the north entrance up by Mammoth.

I'd also post this itinerary on the Yellowstone and Road Trips forums. There are many people on there who can provide even more info.

I hope this helped some. Please feel free to ask more questions.

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2. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Agreed your first two days are too ambitious you will not get everything in especially on day one. Cut back to one cave tour and it could work. Wind is more on your route, but many prefer Jewel.

On day two it will take half a day or more for Devil's Tower with the drive. 3&4 need to be short or not at all to get everything in.

There is no way you can fit in Bear Country USA... leave the bears til Yellowstone.

Day 3 is fine lots of driving, but it's required.

Days 4 & 5 are fine.

I've never stayed in Custer, but $100 a night sounds pretty low... I'm sure it can be done, but it may not be pretty.

As noted the section of US-212 between Devil's Tower and Little Bighorn is not the scenic road you're thinking of... that is the Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge, Montana to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone... you can drive at least part of this road between Cody and Yellowstone... though the east entrance is much more direct. Alas that other section of 212 is not very scenic.

Finally if you're going to Grand Teton as well consider doing Cody before Thermopolis and entering doing Grand Teton from the southeast. Then do Yellowstone since Thermopolis to Cody requires a double back on your route.

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Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Thank you

I do have a bad habit of putting too much in the day. Hubby and I are early risers even on holidays. As previously stated we do have caves locally which we have visited in the past. Remove one or both caves?

"On day two it will take half a day or more for Devil's Tower with the drive. 3&4 need to be short or not at all to get everything in".

Day 2 If we were on the road by 8 at the latest, 2hrs to drive Iron Mountain Rd(this allows 1 hr driving + 1 hr stops), 2 hrs at Mt Rushmore, 1.30 tour of Deadwood (1 hr), Tatanka (1 hr) leave by 4. Drive to Devils Tower Monument (76.7 mi 1 ½ hrs did I get the mileage wrong from Deadwood) arrive 5.30ish. Dinner??? Hike Tower Trail (1.3mi) 1 1/2 hrs? I believe sunset is around 7.30-8pm. Drive to ?? for overnight.

I figured the two days in Thermopolis and Cody we can take a little bit easier and catch our breath before we hit Yellowstone.

We have bookings in Yellowstone for 16th-17th Canyon, 18th Mammoth, and 19th-20th Old Faithful, then heading south to the Tetons for 2 nights before continuing on to SLC then home via LAX.

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4. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

I would definitely drop at least one of the caves, unfortunately. I really enjoy both of these, but you did mention that you have many caves in your area. If you do drop one of the caves, I would say Wind is more unique, as it is known for the boxwork formation, which resembles spiderwebs and is not seen in most caves. If you enjoy hiking, you might want to drop both caves to give you more time at Sylvan Lake and the Needles.

Day 2 still really sounds pretty busy. I think if you dropped Tatanka and possibly even Deadwood, you would drive a little further past Devil's Tower to get you closer to Little Bighorn. If you can get to Buffalo (2 hours from Devils Tower), you'd only have 1.5 hours to get to the battlefield. It's 3 3/4 hours from there to Thermopolis.

Please let us know if you have more questions.

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Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Unfortunately I don't know how to put in a hyperlink using this program. The caves I was referring to are Jenolan caves NSW, Australia. We have also been to King Solomons Cave, Mole Creek Karst National Park, Tasmania and Waitomo Caves, Hastings, New Zealand. If someone could check them out and let me know if they are comparable or different to either Jewel or Wind caves that would be fantastic.

The caves, the hike at Sylvan Lake and Devil's Tower were an add on to my original itinerary.

We will be doing a long hike(7.7 mi Bear lake, Lake Haiyaha & Alberta Falls) in RMNP in the days prior to heading north to Custer SP.

I have a bit of a fascination for dead people, especially famous ones like Calamity Jane & Wild Bill Hickok. The stop at Deadwood could be brief enough to check out the cemetary, although I had heard good reports of the information provided on the tour. I would probably prefer to do the tour of Deadwood and skip Devils Tower if I didn't have any other choice.

Another alternative would be to add a day to this part of the trip (South Dakota) and do Thermopolis and Cody in one day? Is a few hours adequate to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, or would we be short changing ourselves? I don't really want to take up any time on the 16th in Cody, I want to get to Yellowstone as quickly as possible.

I have already managed to squeeze an extra week out of my husband for

this holiday I don't think I could manage one more day, although I can try, sigh.

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Pitman, New Jersey
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6. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Julie,

I think I'd definitely try for more time. I have been to Thermopolis, but I'm really not sure how you could do Cody and Thermopolis in one day. The museums of Cody take quite a bit of time to see, as there are actually 5 complexes in one. We actually spent close to 5 hours there. I realize everyone tours museums differently, but there really is a lot to see.

I looked at the caves you posted. They look REALLY neat! In my opinion, I think you might Jewel a tad dull after seeing these caves, and I really love Jewel Cave!! I think I'd focus on Wind because of the rare boxwork formation. I didn't see this formation in any of the pictures I saw of the other caves you mentioned. Wind has the highest concentration of Boxwork anywhere, and it's like nothing you've ever seen.

Please feel free to ask additional questions.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Thank you slrtravelplanner for taking the time to check out the caves I mentioned. They are spectacular.

I'm not sure how I can squeeze in any extra time I will have to try and sweet talk my husband into flying home one day later.

With our current plan we do have most of the 16th, full days 17th -20th in Yellowstone. If he isn't agreeable to an extra day the only alternative would be to steal the the hours we need to do the museums in Cody from our first day, 16th in Yellowstone?

Uden, The...
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8. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Maybe I missed, but I don't see Badlands NP in your posts and Badlands NP is unmissable when visitng SD imo.

For the caves, we have been to Wind 15 years ago. Very interesting. We were on our way to Jewel during another visit to this area but skipped it because of the waiting time (and we were in a bit of a rush). In Australia we have been to Naracoorte caves but, although we passed them, skipped the ones near Mole Creek. (Gorgeous drive to Cradle Mountain btw) I must say, after Postoina and Carlsbad Caverns we didnot visit many caves anymore. I hardly can imagine there are better ones.

Tet

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9. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Julie,

That's a tough call on Cody vs. Yellowstone. Most would probably say to opt for more time in the park. However, if you are a person who enjoys museums, I think you have to go far to top these. On the flip side, if you prefer nature and hiking over being indoors looking at exhibits, you might reconsider Cody all together. From what I'm reading, you would still have 4 full days in the park even if you cut in some time for Cody on the 16th , and although more days are ideal, 4 is probably about an average visit for most first timers. I think I'd let my loves vs. likes guide me on this decision since time is tight.

Just to give you an idea, on our last trip to this area in 09, we spent 11 days between the Tetons, Cody, and Yellowstone, and also went over the Beartooth.

Tet's suggestion for the Badlands is an excellent one. This park is a real gem with its unique landscape that just emerges from nowhere. I just wasn't sure how you'd fit it in. You'd definitely need another day, unless you opted to cut something out.

And Tet..those caves Julie mentioned were amazing! I googled Postojna (didn't realize it was in Slovenia), and that one looks spectacular as well. Carlsbad is on my bucket list...along with a lot of other places.. :)

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10. Re: Critique suggestions itinerary

Oh Tet that is so unfair. We are struggling to do justice to our holiday now. I definitely don't need more suggestions of not to be missed places. I had a quick look at the website and the land mass for Badlands NP looks huge. I don't think we could do it justice even if I squeeze the extra day out of my hubby I am aiming for. Maybe I should just tell my hubby we are staying for another week and be done with it. I would have to try and rebook our accommodation in Yellowstone for a week later.

There is absolutely no way he would agree to it. I have already squeezed an extra week out of him. Something is going to have to give. I asked him to look at my itinerary for 10th -16th whilst I was at work last night, to see what he thinks, with the appropriate hyperlinks attached, after all it is his holiday too.

When I first planned the holiday my aim was to see Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone. I didn't know Mt Rushmore was in South Dakota until I started doing research. The holiday has just taken on a life of its own.

My hubby has made me promise we will visit Western Australia in 2012. Tet would you recommend visiting the caves at Naracoorte, if so I will add the information to places to visit down under?

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