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Taking college-age kids on a US West trip

Sterling, Virginia
2 posts
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Taking college-age kids on a US West trip

Trying to plan a trip to US West area for me and my two college-age kids in May of 2013. Ideally, it would be a 7-9 day trip including Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, maybe a dude ranch or boat trip and Gold Rush towns. I am totally open to ideas!! I have looked at several tours because I don't want to drive myself, but they are expensive and the hotels are not great. Am interested in traveling by train, and adding a leg or two on a bus and/or boat rather than having to rent a car and drive myself, I can depart from Denver or Fort Collins, CO area OR I can fly somewhere direct if there is a good option for this type of trip. I would greatly appreciate any advice. Is this even possible?

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
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1. Re: Taking college-age kids on a US West trip


Welcome to the forums.

First, May is not an ideal time for touring these areas. The weather, particularly in Yellowstone, could still be snowy, depending on how early in May you go. Even SD can get snow in May, although it usually doesn't last long.

Short of taking an organized bus tour, you will probably have to do some driving, particularly in Yellowstone. With 2 college age students, I don't think a tour is the way to go, as many times you will find older people on the tours, and they aren't as "adventurous" as being able to do it on your own. I think college kids would be bored.

I did find a link to a train tour, but I have no experience in this type. I have been to both areas but have always done them on my own. The link is below:


Personally, I'd plan this trip later in the year (June or July would be better, although you will have more crowds), and I'd do it myself without a tour. It's really pretty easy with the help of these forums and travel reviews on this site. Also, you really should plan at least 2 weeks for a trip like this if you want to include Yellowstone, the Tetons and Rushmore.

If you can't get 2 weeks, I'd recommend dropping area. You can easily spend a week in the Black Hills, and you can also tour the Yellowstone/Tetons in a week. For best places to fly into, Rapid City is great for the Black Hills, although expensive, and Jackson, WY is good for Yellowstone..ditto on being expensive. For more economical options, try Denver for the Black Hills and Salt Lake for Yellowstone.

I have no idea how a boat could fit into the mix here, not counting a float trip in the Tetons.

Hopefully this will get you started. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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29,991 posts
442 reviews
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2. Re: Taking college-age kids on a US West trip

Great ideas from SLR. I too think that a single person or older couple might enjoy a tour but not teenagers.

For great info about the Black Hills go online and look at the travel guide-


We've been to both Black Hills and Yellowstone with teenagers so let us know if you have any questions.

Sterling, Virginia
2 posts
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3. Re: Taking college-age kids on a US West trip

This is really great advice. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

South Dakota
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4,552 posts
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4. Re: Taking college-age kids on a US West trip

I agree that 7-9 days is not enough time to see both Yellowstone and the Black Hills. You could spend a week in each place alone. Pick one area that fits your budget and save the other area for a future trip.

5. Re: Taking college-age kids on a US West trip

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