We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

Racine,WI
Level Contributor
56 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

My husband and I are planning a trip for us and our 5 boys (ages 14 to 5) in mid August (coming in right after the Sturgis rally). Since we are a large family finding lodging has been difficult... We are looking to stay in a hotel vs a cabin or rental home due to the amenities that are offered. I have found a couple hotels in Deadwood, The Lodge and Hickok, that look like they may be fun but am worried that we may be 1) Too far away (although we don't mind a drive) to make it worthwhile and 2) That is may not be an appropriate place for kids. Help with this would be appreciated!!!!

I am also not sure how to schedule our itinerary... We are wanting to go to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Badlands, Custer SP, Reptile Garden, Wall Drug and Bear Country for sure, possibly a quick photo op at the Corn Palace...

We will be leaving Wisconsin and stopping along the way for the night. Once we arrive we will be spending 4 nights and seeing any last minute things on the way out. I am basically asking for any and all tips that I can get with this!!!!!! Thanks!!! :)

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
683 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

Deadwood is geared more towards adults, with gambling being its prime attraction, however, there are things in this area that might interest your kids. Deadwood has several interesting museums as well as shoot-outs during the day and The Trail of Jack McCall in the evenings. The Boot Hill Goldmine tour and the Mining Museum in Lead are interesting and Spearfish Canyon, just south of Lead, is worth visiting with several beautiful waterfalls and nice hiking trails. The Booth Fish Hatchery in the town of Spearfish and Devils Tower in the Wyoming side of the Black Hills are within an hour of Deadwood. The best trail ride we have ever been on is located south of Lead, Andy's Trail Rides. Although there are others througout the Black Hills, Andy's is not your typical follow the leader ride and takes you through some beautiful country that most vacationer's do not see. I am including a website in case that interests you.

http://www.andystrailrides.com/

Only having 4 nights, and I assume 3 or 4 days, I would recommend lodging in the areas of either Keystone, Hill City, the town of Custer of Custer State Park due to the fact most of the Black Hills attractions are located in this area. I am including a website that has all kinds of lodging suggestions for this area. If you should change your mind and decide to look into a cabin, I can also give you some recommendations. Many of the privately owned cabins have hot tubs, pool tables, etc. that your family might enjoy. Although the resorts in Custer State Park do not have swimming pools, Sylvan Lake Lodge and Legion Lake Lodge are both located on lakes with nice little beaches and bicyle boats, etc. available for rent. The park is full of wild life and is a wonderful place to stay.

http://www.hillcitysd.com/

To add to your itinerary of things to see and do, you might want to include Jewel or Wind Caves. There are so many things to do in the Black Hills, most of which are family oriented. Not knowing what your family's interests are I would urge you to order the free South Dakota Vacation Guide by visiting

http://www.travelsd.com/. This guide is chock full of information as well as day trip suggestions, lodging, maps, etc.

I hope this info will help you. Knowing your family's interest would help us help you more.

Edited: 06 February 2013, 20:49
Racine,WI
Level Contributor
56 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

Thanks for the input!! I actually have ordered and received our travel guide which is full of information! I really need to take a couple hours and sit down and really go through it. I forgot to mention the 1880's train to what we would be interested in. It is hard for us to do caves, hiking, etc because our youngest is in a wheelchair. A pretty small wheelchair, but a wheelchair just the same. It doesn't do very well on non paved surfaces for any length of time. If there are paved hikes we can take then please do give those suggestions!!!

I remember Deadwood as a kid and I do think my boys would definately be interested in it. But as you suggested, a day trip as opposed to staying there may make more sense.

My kids are good in the car, however, they are still just kids. I don't want to pack too many driving activities in one day, which is where I am lost with planning this. And I also don't know how long to expect to spend at each attraction.

I am definately going to check out the websites that you gave me... I am not at all opposed to a cabin if we can get some of the perks of a hotel (roughing it is so not my thing...ha!). Thanks for the info~!!!

Rockford, Illinois
Level Contributor
970 posts
212 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

The path around Devil's Tower is paved so that might work for your youngest.

Also, Sylvan Lake has a path around it.....and part of it might work as well. It isn't paved, but it's that really fine gravel type of surface. About halfway around, it does become rocky and you have to climb up the rocks, so that part wouldn't work, but you could at least walk around until that point and then walk back. It's a beautiful lake!!

There are a few boardwalk areas in the Badlands that would probably work too.

Edited: 07 February 2013, 01:56
Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,767 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

Your 1st night, you might want to stop in Sioux Falls (about 8 hours per Google maps). I'd map out the trip something like this:

Day 1: Leave and stop in Sioux Falls for the night

Day 2: Leave Sioux Falls and head to the Badlands, seeing them enroute. Stop Head to your base camp. Hopefully you will be in Keystone, Hill City or Custer.

Day 3: Bear Country/Reptile Gardens

Day 4: Crazy Horse/Needles Hwy/Sylvan Lake

Day 5: Wildlife Loop/Iron Mountain Rd/Rushmore

Day 6: Stop at Wall Drug enroute home if you didn't have a chance previously.

You might could probably fit in Wind Cave on day 5 or Jewel Cave on day 4. With your time frame, I don't know if I'd add Deadwood.

Mt. Mama gave her usual excellent advice on the cabin scene. If you are a large family, I think you'd be able to find something to better suit your needs going this route.

Let us know if we can help further.

Racine,WI
Level Contributor
56 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

Fantastic advice!! Thank you all so much... This is what I was looking for. :) As much as it hurts, we may skip Deadwood. Think there is anyway to add the 1880's train into this? Possibly on Bear Country/Reptile Gardens day? A couple of my kiddos are big into trains so I thought that would be a fun trip for us all!!

Rockford, Illinois...
Level Contributor
188 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

The Black Hills is a wonderful place for a family vacation.

I would suggest stopping at the SPAM museum in Austin, MN on the way out. It is a nice place to stop at, as they have some hands on things to do. They also have super clean restrooms. We had our picnic lunch here last year, as they have picnic tables too.

I would also suggest stopping at Falls Park in Sioux Falls. It is really neat (even last year without too much water flowing over the falls due to lack of rain).

You may want to look at Mitchell for your overnight location after your first day of traveling. It is just enough past Sioux Falls, so it will help you get to the Badlands a bit earlier than staying in Sioux Falls.

I would at least stop by the Corn Palace for pictures, as they have a nice statue across the street to take pictures by (so the Corn Palace is in the background).

I would also say to hit the Badlands on your drive out or even on your drive home.

I like Deadwood and we stayed there 2 years ago, but it is way north of the main black hills attractions. Hill City, Keystone and Custer are all much better located. Last year we stayed in Rapid City, and liked staying there, as it is closer to the attractions (than Deadwood) and we were able to hit the grocery store or Wal-Mart daily to get picnic supplies.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,767 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

Yes, you could add the 1880 Train on day 3, perhaps sandwiched between Bear Country and Reptile Gardens. You could take the train from Keystone and head to Hill City. I'd highly recommend stopping at the Alpine Inn for lunch and taking a later train back to Keystone. You would still have time to see Reptile Gardens in the early evening. You could also add it on day 5, after seeing Rushmore.

South Dakota
Level Contributor
4,552 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

I just skimmed the previous posts, so I apologize if this is repear info. You could do half of the Presidential Trail at Mt. Rushmore. From the main observation deck, head left. This is a flat, paved surface that will take you right to the base of the mtn. When you reach the mtn. double back the way you came. If you continue on (clockwise), you will run into LOTS of steps.

Per the 1880 train, since you're on a time crunch, I'd do a one-way trip and have one parent drive. The trip is exactly the same going and coming. The dialogue repeats. We were all pretty restless on the return trip.

Racine,WI
Level Contributor
56 posts
1 review
Save Reply
9. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

Thanks so much everyone for the input. We have decided to extend our trip by an extra night because there are certain things we just don't want to miss out on!! We have found a place in Rapid City that will fit our family comfortably. We plan on staying there 3-4 nights with 1-2 nights in Deadwood (I just can't give that one up- I have great memories from when I was a kid!!)....

I appreciate all the itinerary help also!! That has helped me so much and it is nice to know that there are a few trails we can go on that the wheelchair shouldn't be a problem. I want our youngest to experience as much as he can!! (The kid even is learning how to ski) :)

NOW my question is, by extending a day or so will it make any sense to change the itinerary up at all or just add Deadwood to the end?

In case anyone is wondering, we plan on leaving the Milwaukee area early in the morning day one and using that as a driving day, stopping in either Sioux Falls or Mitchell for the night. 5 days/nights in the SD tourist area and then heading out, with our overnight stop being the Mall of America area (this is strictly for mom but suggested by my husband). Heading home will be a considerable amount of driving, so we would rather not have to plan any more sights to see on the way out.

Thanks to everyone for all their help!!!!!!

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,767 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Mt. Rushmore, etc..Need help with lodging and things to do!!

I think adding Deadwood at the end will work fine. You could check out the mining museum in Lead. I know Mike N had a good experience there with his kids when they went gold panning. Deadwood has some historical attractions like Saloon 10, Mt Moriah Cemetery and the Adams House. Kids like the nightly shootouts too.

Also, when I recommended the caves, I totally blew right by your youngest being in a wheelchair. I just wanted to mention that if the caves interest you, you could take the Jewel Cave Discovery Talk, which is a brief introduction to the cave that is wheelchair accessible.