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Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

Richmond, VA
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Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

We were toying with flying in to Sioux Falls, driving to Yellowstone and taking in everything along the way, and then flying out of Salt Lake City. We have a week, there are 4 of us -- 2 adults and 17, 14 -- and we are good with car time.

Is it too much?! We'd love to catch the highlights but don't want to do either an injustice...



Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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1. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

Karyn welcome to Trip Advisor!

I did the Sioux Falls to Yellowstone (starting in Milwaukee) last summer. Here is a blog that highlights my journey (in both directions) and what I found of interest along the way :)

…blogspot.com/ .

Besides Badlands NP, the Minuteman Missile Nat'l Historic Site was a highlight of the trip. If you are interested, you'll want to be sure about timing as the tour admission is on a rather limited basis and I believe due to sequestration, closed on Tuesdays . . . http://www.nps.gov/mimi/index.htm .

Edited: 09 May 2013, 17:57
Rockford, Illinois...
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2. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

I would question flying into Sioux Falls, as flying into Rapid City will get you closer to the attractions in SD.

I would recommend you look at flight times and then try to lay out the trip (where to overnight and how long to be in each area).

Things in SD to see (skip the first 2 if you fly into Rapid City):

-Falls Park in Sioux Falls

-Corn Place in Mitchell (not going inside but stopping to see it)


-Wall Drug (worth a stop for at least a few minutes)

-Mt. Rushmore

-Scenic Drives in the Black Hills (Needles Hwy, Iron Mountain Road and Spearfish Canyon) – Spearfish canyon can be hit on the day you depart the black hills going towards Yellowstone.

-Custer SP (driving the wildlife loop)

-There are lots of other Black Hills Attractions – Crazy Horse, 2 National caves (Wind and Jewel), and many many other things to do - so it really depends how much time you have in the area and your interests

-Devils Tower in WY – stop on the drive to Yellowstone

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3. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

Do you have a week as in 7 days, which means you would have maybe 5 days for sightseeing, or do you have 9 days, which would give you 7?

South Dakota
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4. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

Are you planning on doing both the Black Hills and Yellowstone? One week is not NEARLY enough time for that. Those of us on the forum usually suggest one week for the Black Hills (which are usually done along with the Badlands) and one-two additional weeks for Yellowstone (which should be done along with the Tetons). So, three weeks is better. If you cannot take a trip that is that long, I would choose between the Hills/Badlands and Yellowstone/Tetons. Save the other destination for separate vacation.

If you choose Yellowstone/Tetons, I'd fly into either Denver or Salt Lake City.

If you choose Black Hills/Badlands, as Mike mentioned, Rapid City is the closest airport. Other options are Denver with a six hour drive, Pierre with a three hour drive (connecting flights from Minneapolis on Great Lake Aviation) and Sioux Falls with a five hour drive (connecting flights from Minneapolis and Chicago). Price all these options and see which is cheapest.

If you do decide to extend your vacation to accommodate seeing BOTH areas, I would not start in Sioux Falls or Pierre. The Corn Palace and Falls Park are nice, but there's not much else to see along I-90 until you get close to the Badlands. It's a very long, monotonous drive. Start in Rapid, Denver or Salt Lake.

Obviously, these are just my opinions, please take them as just that.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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5. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

Well it does depend on just how much they want to see and do. I did the full round trip (Milwaukee to Yellowstone, with stops along the way) in 8 days (3,800 miles). Perhaps not for everyone, especially if you really want to see/do A LOT in South Dakota . . . but you can make the trip and get quite a bit in (the "highlights") with a week to do it.

Unfortunately, we do not know what their interests are or what they'd consider of interest or highlights. Me? I could completely do without the touristy places like Corn Palace and Wall Drug. And if planning for more than a day or two in Yellowstone, personally, I would also skip Black Hills/Custer State Park. For me, the sights along the way through SD were just that, along the way, and to break up the long slog across a rather boring stretch of interstate highway.

That said, I do agree with someone else's comment about flying into Sioux Falls. Something else to consider is the one-way car rental drop-off fee. They are usually significant enough for me, that I avoid them at all costs!

I did not suggest a change in the OP's thought process, however, as I do know know what else they have going on with this trip. Maybe they have family or something in Sioux Falls? I know when I post questions on TA and everyone comes out to help, I really appreciate it. But often trying to completely rewrite my itinerary can be frustrating (and exhausting). I have one such trip in the works and as much as I appreciated the feedback to the one question I had . . . I really didn't want to deal with all of the other side suggestions & comments about my schedule, choice of hotels, etc.

Hopefully the OP will come back with more info which will help us help them.

P.S. the one detail that would be really good to have is WHEN is this trip being considered? Time of year makes a lot of difference too!

Edited: 09 May 2013, 19:18
Richmond, VA
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6. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

Thanks to all of you, I appreciate the feedback!

We would land on Tuesday, July 23 midday so still some usable time. And we'd fly out on Tuesday, July 30 with no usable time. So 7 days. I like flying into Rapid City instead and I hadn't considered the car rental thing so I'll have to look more closely at that!

I suppose we would want to hit the "must sees"... What the boys have studied, seen and heard about. Since we're from VA and there are so many awesome places to see in the US I'd prefer not to hit that section of the states again. However, I understand that we're probably missing a lot of beautiful sights!

So I guess my bottom line question is whether 7 days, with some route and flight tweaks, is enough time. Or should we wait for a time in life when vacations can be longer! :) But then, we may not have the kids along!!

And I'll be sure to check out your blog Von!

Oh, and for the SD piece, I was thinking Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, wildlife loop (unless we're seeing that all along the way) and the missile site. As well as Devil's tower. I'll have to research the other suggestions more carefully. I usually try to map out the must-sees and then have some "if we have time" options too. Thanks again everyone!

Pitman, New Jersey
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7. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

Hi Karyn,

You've gotten some very good feedback already. I think the keys here are..1. The high drop off car rental fees you will encounter by flying in a place and out another and 2. A lack of time

Like me, you are from the east coast, and many who haven't experienced a lot of the western part of US underestimte drive times. We all see this frequently and try to help others so they don't have a vacation with too much car time.

All this being said, I would urge you to choose either SD or Yellowstone, but not both. A week in either place would be a nice amount of time to see the must sees of both areas. You can still have a great vacation.

Definitely nix Sioux Falls unless it is greatly cheaper to fly into. Rapid City is closest to the Black Hills, and if you opt for just Yellowstone/Tetons, Jackson, WY would be closest. Denver is a more economical choice for the Black Hills (6 hour drive), whereas Salt Lake is cheaper for Yellowstone (5 hour drive).

My concern with going to Yellowstone would also be lodging. If you want to stay inside the park, things are probably booked. You will want to look for cancellations or lodging outside the park. Many plan their Yellowstone lodging close to a year in advance, as things do fill up.

Your list of interests for the Black Hills could be easily seen in a week, and you could add a great deal. The area is quite compact, whereas, Yellowstone is larger and more spread out. Both areas are magnificent, IMO, but I know that many prefer Yellowstone simply for the diversity and uniqueness of sights. You should order the travel planner from travelsd.com to get a good feel for the attractions and all SD has to offer, and maybe decide from there. I remember the 1st time I saw the travel planner how shocked I was to see all the Black Hills has to see and do.

Once you choose an area, please feel free to post with us again, especially if you decide on SD. We'd be glad to help you further. If you decide on Yellowstone, the regulars on that forum are also more than willing to help. Many of us here have been to both places and watch the Yellowstone forum too and might chime in if we can assist.

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

I post on both forums and can tell you that you have gotten great advice. If you had 9 days-10 days you could possibly do a quick tour of both areas but would need to fly in and out of somewhere like Billings, MT.

I think you need to decide if this is a once in a lifetime trip and you will not be back in this part of the west. If so we will be glad to help you with both parts of your trip.

Here is an idea of what you could do in 9 days- you cannot see everything- only the highlights-

Day 1- fly into Billings in am- drive to Black Hills- 5 1/2 hours/ stay Black Hills

Day 2- see Badlands NP in am- Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, other attractions/stay Black Hills

Day 3- Custer SP and other Black Hills attractions/stay Black Hills

Day 4- drive to Cody by way of Deadwood and Devils Tower- do rodeo at 8 pm/stay Cody

Day 5- Grand Tetons/stay in park or in Jackson Hole

Day 6-8- Yellowstone NP- can help you plan this later/stay in park or in Gardiner or West Yellowstone (we prefer West Yellowstone)

Day 9- drive to Billings- 2 1/2 hours- fly home in pm

If you only have 7 days then you need to decide- Black Hills or Yellowstone???

Good luck and if you have other questions please let us know!!

Edited: 09 May 2013, 23:44
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9. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

Another vote for choosing one or the other. 7 days is not enough time to see both.

Both the Black Hills and Yellowstone, are great vacation destinations. Each have more then enough to keep you busy for 7 days, (Yellowstone can keep you going for 2-3 wks.)

If you decide to do the Black Hills, be sure to order the travel info packet from SD tourism


If you go for yellowstone, you can get info from Wyoming;


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10. Re: Road trip from Sioux Falls to Yellowstone

I will disagree. You could see the highlights of both within your time frame. Much easier if you fly into Rapid though. Fly into Rapid Tuesday, Rushmore than afternoon/evening, next day wildlife loop, etc. Thursday drive to Cody for the night, if nothing else just get a feel for the town. Friday to Yellowstone, maybe you can get something in West Yellowstone or Gardiner? Saturday and Sunday concentrate on the geyser areas, throw in Canyon (for a lot of us, geysers are what we think of when we think of Yellowstone) Make sure and at least go into the lobby of Old Faithfull Inn. Monday easy drive to Salt Lake, sightsee on the way, Tuesday fly out of Salt Lake. You get a taste of the area and can figure out later what you really wished you had more time for and do it on another vacation. Cooke City might be another option for lodging

Edited: 10 May 2013, 03:47