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Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Racine,WI
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Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Hello all! Back in February I was asking for advice on an itinerary and got GREAT advice. We are traveling in just under two weeks to SD with myself, my husband and our 5 boys (youngest in a wheelchair). We extended our vacation by two days based on the responses we got-- We would NEVER have been able to fit in all we wanted to see in the original 5 we gave it. Here is what I have so far, please feel free to let me know it any/all of it needs to be "tweeked" to make it work. :)

Day One- Leave WI, over night in Sioux Falls (resv already booked)

Racine,WI
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1. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

And... my fingers were faster than my mind. :) I hit enter by mistake.

Day 1- Overnight in Sioux Falls.

Day 2- Stop at Corn Palace for photo op and head into Badlands NP, also seeing the Minuteman missile site. Overnighting in Deadwood.

Day 3- Devils Tower, Roughlock Falls, back to Deadwood for Mt. Moriah cemetery, shootout and trial. Last night in Deadwood.

Day 4- Head towards hotel in Rapids City. Mt Rushmore and Reptile Gardens is on the agenda. Possible to add anything? We were thinking this would be a good night for the Mt Rushmore light show. Overnight in Rapids City.

Day 5- Bear Country USA, Crazy Horse and Crazy Horse light show (my husbands to do regardless of reviews). Again, anything else to add? Overnight in Rapids City.

Day 6- Custer State Park and all that entails, Needles Hwy etc. Possibly interested in taking in the Native American "dinner" offered at Custer State Park on Thursday evenings. Any thoughts on this? Last night in Rapids City.

Day 7- Leave Rapids City and stop at Wall Drug on the way out. Overnight in Sioux Falls.

We are trying not to pack our days too full ahead of time in case something jumps out as a must see while we are there, however we would like to have an idea of what we are doing. Also, we have found a tour that does a Jeep Safari through Custer State Park that goes off road. Wondering if it is worth the $$ or an overall waster of time. Thanks for any and all help on this!!!

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Looks like a nice division of time. I am not the best at doing a detailed daily trip plan so will let the DE and others let you know more about your daily activities. Just my opinion but we much prefer staying in Keystone or Hill City for the Black Hills and not Rapid City. To me Rapid City just feels like a large city and doesn't have the character of the smaller towns. If you don't do the Native American dinner be sure and eat the buffet at the State Game Lodge or Blue Bell Lodge- imo it is very good.

Enjoy your visit!!

Arlington, Virginia
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3. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

We were in the Black Hills for 8 days in June and here are my comments on your itinerary based on our trip:

1. Day 2-- I don't know how long it takes to drive from Sioux Falls to the Badlands (with a photo op at the Corn Palace), but be aware that the tickets for the Minuteman Delta 01 Launch Control Facility Site are distributed on a first come, first serve basis and they go fast. We got there around 9am in mid-June (prior to the summer height of tourists) and the earliest tour that we could get tickets for was at 1pm. . Also, I don't know the details for seeing the Delta 01 site with a person in a wheelchair. The elevator is small as is the space inside the "command center". I contacted the staff prior to our visit with a question and they were both friendly and prompt in their response. You might want to ask them about wheelchair accessibility of the Delta 01 site. Even if you can't get tickets to the Delta 01 site, you can visit the small Minuteman Missile Visitor's Center and see the interesting film there. There are a few exhibits and a Junior Ranger program for the kids. You can also drive to the Delta 09 site and see the missile silo there. Here's a good description of a visit that a TA contributor made which I found useful prior to our visit: igougo.com/b402773-attraction-reviews-minute…

2. Day 4--I would not try to do any more than you have planned for this day. I'd start out with the Reptile Gardens. We spent about 2 hours there and only saw 1 of the 3 live reptile shows. You might spend even longer here. Then you could go to Mount Rushmore and see the film, the excellent museum and take a walk on the Presidents Trail that will take you right under the monument. I would allow at least 90 minutes to do all this. Then you could grab some food at the cafe or do as we did and take a picnic dinner. There are no picnic tables at Mt. Rushmore, but there are plenty of benches and that's where we ate. Check the times for the hours of the museum, etc. but I recall that they were open until late for those coming to see the evening show, which is excellent. (Hint: Hang around Mt. Rushmore for at least 30 - 45 minutes after the end of the evening program. The gift shop will be open if you want to look around there. If you wait for the traffic to clear out, you'll have a MUCH easier exit from the parking garage.

Finally, I can't recommend the Wildlife Jeep Tour. A relative of mine did it a few years ago and had a great experience, but we didn't. It's really "hit-or-miss". On our visit, it had rained the day before, so there was only one off-road that the jeep driver was allowed to take--and we didn't see any wildlife along it. Also, they can't guarantee what, if any, wildlife you will see. We saw some bison and antelope, but less than we were able to see on our own when we drove the Wildlife Loop later in our trip. Considering the size of your family, the cost of the jeep tour and the randomness of spotting wildlife, I think you would do better driving the wildlife loop on your own. Your best chance of seeing the wildlife will be in the morning before the bison and other animals retreat to the shady areas far from the road, so I'd recommend getting an early start from Rapid City to Custer on Day 6.

Apple Valley...
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4. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Day 5 looks a little light to me. Bear Country we maybe spent an hour there and Crazy Horse, maybe 2-3 hours? I would try to add the Needles Hwy scenic drive in Custer State Park that day because its good to split those drives up for the kids. We did a stop at Sylvan Lake as well which was beautiful. I actually did this day in reverse myself last summer and ended at Bear Country around dinner time and the animals were awake and active at that time.

I have the same concerns with being able to get a tour at the Minuteman Missile Control Center with your timing unfortunately. Certainly report back and let us know afterwards if it worked out or not!

I did the Wacipi Woyatan Show last summer and it was not at all what I expected and did not really enjoy it that much at all. The food (indian tacos) were good but the show was late to begin and the kids were basically practicing for us, just not organized well. Maybe those kinks have been worked out this year but we have not heard any updates here this year as of yet. Again, let us know if you do it or not and how it goes.

I think you will have plenty of time with this current itinerary to the point that I hope you have another list of things to add. The Grand Magic Show in Custer seems to be a hit this summer from other travelers here on TA for example. There are also some free parks in Rapid City but I do not recall the ages of your boys on whether those would be good ideas or not.

Racine,WI
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5. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Thanks for the info on the Minuteman site. We didn't plan on taking the ticketed tour because of the size of our family, ticket times, etc. We just want to stop so the kids can get an idea of what is there and to see the film. Great thoughts on staying somewhere other than Rapid City, but again, the size of our family goes a long way in dictating where we stay. And while a cabin rental would have been fun I don't think we would have gotten our $$ worth out of it. And renting two rooms also got expensive. So we settled on a suite in Rapids City with a pool. :) For us, if everyone has a bed to sleep in its a win-win situation!! :)

Racine,WI
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6. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Thanks for the info on the Minuteman site. We didn't plan on taking the ticketed tour because of the size of our family, ticket times, etc. We just want to stop so the kids can get an idea of what is there and to see the film. Great thoughts on staying somewhere other than Rapid City, but again, the size of our family goes a long way in dictating where we stay. And while a cabin rental would have been fun I don't think we would have gotten our $$ worth out of it. And renting two rooms also got expensive. So we settled on a suite in Rapids City with a pool. :) For us, if everyone has a bed to sleep in its a win-win situation!! :)

Also that is great info on the dinner show. You just wrote about my biggest concerns. I have read it is a "children's" show but I wasn't sure if they meant for children or put on by children. I think you just clarified this!!!! :)

Racine,WI
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7. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Thanks for the info on the Minuteman site. We didn't plan on taking the ticketed tour because of the size of our family, ticket times, etc. We just want to stop so the kids can get an idea of what is there and to see the film. Great thoughts on staying somewhere other than Rapid City, but again, the size of our family goes a long way in dictating where we stay. And while a cabin rental would have been fun I don't think we would have gotten our $$ worth out of it. And renting two rooms also got expensive. So we settled on a suite in Rapids City with a pool. :) For us, if everyone has a bed to sleep in its a win-win situation!! :)

Also that is great info on the dinner show. You just wrote about my biggest concerns. I have read it is a "children's" show but I wasn't sure if they meant for children or put on by children. I think you just clarified this!!!! :)

Racine,WI
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8. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Thanks for the info on the Minuteman site. We didn't plan on taking the ticketed tour because of the size of our family, ticket times, etc. We just want to stop so the kids can get an idea of what is there and to see the film. Great thoughts on staying somewhere other than Rapid City, but again, the size of our family goes a long way in dictating where we stay. And while a cabin rental would have been fun I don't think we would have gotten our $$ worth out of it. And renting two rooms also got expensive. So we settled on a suite in Rapids City with a pool. :) For us, if everyone has a bed to sleep in its a win-win situation!! :)

Also that is great info on the dinner show. You just wrote about my biggest concerns. I have read it is a "children's" show but I wasn't sure if they meant for children or put on by children. I think you just clarified this!!!! :)

Edited: 05 August 2013, 18:59
South Dakota
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9. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

My only suggestion would be to see Falls Park when in Sioux Falls. It only takes about an hour. Nice paved paths for the wheelchair and also an observation tower with elevator. It's free, so if you dislike it, you are not out money. One recent poster did not like it, but we have also had people on here who did not like Mt. Rushmore, so obviously it is a matter of opinion.

Racine,WI
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10. Re: Final thoughts on SD itinerary???

Sorry for the multiple post everyone.... Technology. :) based on suggestions I have received we were able to switch our hotel from Rapid City to Keystone!!! We are very excited about this trip. We have decided to forgo the Native dinner show and the Jeep Safari tour and are adding the 1880 train on day 5... Still saves us a ton of money!! I am open to any and all suggestions so keep 'em coming!!! :)