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Itinerary Take 1

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Itinerary Take 1

I mentioned a while back that we will be traveling to the Black Hills (from Minneapolis) later this month for 8 days. We are traveling with 5 young children and will be staying in Hill City for our entire stay.

Below is the my first draft of our itinerary, and I'm looking for feedback and suggestions. I currently have 2 days open, any suggestions on filling those up?

I was thinking of doing a gold mine tour, are there any that are better than the others? Also, I have planned to visit Wind Cave, should we also do Jewel Cave, or is one enough?



Thursday 7/20

Travel beginning at 3am

Chamberlain (Arrive for breakfast)


Wall Drug

Continue travel to Hill City

Friday 7/21

Mt. Rushmore

Custer State Park

Saturday 7/22

Wind Cave (Natural Cave Entrance Tour)

Custer State Park

Sunday 7/23

Bear Country

Reptile Gardens

Chuck Wagon Dinner ( ??? )

Monday 7/24

Crazy Horse

Mammoth Site

Evan’s Plunge

Tuesday 7/25

Spearfish Canyon

Devils Tower


Wednesday 7/26

Thursday 7/27

Friday 7/28

Travel Back

Mitchell Corn Palace

Genesee, CO
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1. Re: Itinerary Take 1

Wow, 5 Kids. My bf and I got back from that area in June, although don't have kids, saw some other possible things your kids might enjoy doing to fill up your other two days (depending on their ages).

- Alpine Slide in Keystone

- Mini Golf across from the Alpine Slide in Keystone

- The mystic area?? (didn't do it, heard is tourist trap, but kids like it)

Also there are some activities that you can take advantage of in Custer State Park ( Not sure if your current two Custer days are mainly doing the scenic drives or include other activities already), but there is:

* Sylvan Lake Beach (swim and/or rent paddle boats)

* Horseback riding at Blue Bell stables

*Gold-panning demonstrations and hands-on (1 PM, Peter Norbeck Visitor Center)

* Junior Ranger (age 7-12) and/or Pups Program (ages 4-6 with accompanying adult

Rapid City, SD
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2. Re: Itinerary Take 1

Your schedule looks pretty good. Start early for the Devils Tower day.

You might consider the 1880 Train.

On a trip that long, it's always good to leave a day open toward the end to pick up on whatever you might have missed during the week--or to go back what you feel like you didn't get enough time at.

Dinosaur Park in Rapid City is a free little attraction that some of your kids might like. Also consider Storybook Island if your kids are young enough. It's a "fairy tale" type park that is free.

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3. Re: Itinerary Take 1

Thanks for you comments izzyblizzy and Accommodator.

Our trip is less than a week away, and my entire family is getting excited!

How long can I expect our trip though the Badlands to take? Also, how long of a drive can I expect from Wall to Hill City?

Thanks again,


Rapid City, SD
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4. Re: Itinerary Take 1

You can drive through the Badlands quickly in about two hours or if you spend a little more time, you're probably looking at four hours. It's one of those places where you can do the quick drive-through or spend a couple days.

Wall to Hill City should take about 1.5 hours. The quickest way is to take Exit 61 and use the new bypass that goes east of Rapid City. But I'd take Exit 57 instead and take a quick loop through downtown Rapid City.

Dallas / Ft Worth...
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5. Re: Itinerary Take 1

I just got back from Badlands and Black Hills and went to many of the places you listed.

Wall Drug had some history, but full of the usual tourist stuff.

Consider the Minuteman Missle Tour. ( yes, the folks in control of 150 nuclear missiles during the cold war )

Entrance is off Hwy 90 exit 131. They only allow 6 visitors on each of the 2 daily tours of the command center and missle silo. But all visitors are allowed, with guide, to the missle silo site.

We stayed at the Badlands/White River KOA. Clean site and friendly folks.

While at the Badlands you gotta take a hike.

The Geology Tour given by NPS was short and mostly paved. For the more adventurous try the Notch Trail or Saddle Pass Trail.

Just outside the park is a Agate Alloment where you can hunt for Fairburn agates. Very rare.

Too bad you don't have time for Wounded Knee. Only 1 hour south west from the Badlands. It is one of the last battles ? that helped end the indian " Ghost Dance".

Leaving to stay at Hill City we took the Badlands Loop, down Coneta Road ( 509 ) on to 44 west to Rapid City.

For a unique view and winding roads past Mt. Rushmore, consider taking 79 south from Rapid City then 36 west then to 16 west.

In Hill City we stayed at Janssen's Lodestone Motel. Clean, full kitchen and bath, right off 16 with a creek for the kids to play in.

Had great food at the Bouncing Buffalo. Route 16 was fine with pizza and burgers.

We didn't eat at Alpine given the riduclous long line/wait. And since we heard the HorseCreek restaurant (4 miles north of Hill City ) was just as good, no line the locals eat there and it's cheaper; that's where we went and were pleased.

While in Hill City go to the Black Hills Natural History Muesum. It's free with plenty of dinosaurs and minerals. The 1880 train and depot is stationed at Hill City.

We priced renting bikes to ride on the Mickelson trail. But $200 for only 4 hours plus a 1 hour suttle back....we had more to do and we can ride bikes at home.

To see most of Mt Rushmore... drive to, hike, pictures, museum, gift shop,and more pictures ...plan to stay 4-5 hours.

Had planned to go to Crazy Horse but the entrance fee, which is all inclusive, was $25 ! and we only had an hour to stay.

In Deadwood go to Saloon #10 for the reenactment of Wild Bill Hickock murder. Get there 30-45 minutes early for a good seat. The street gunbattle afterwards was not worth the wait.

In Deadwood the Mt. Mariah cemetery is where Hickock and Calamity Jane and others are buried.

We went to the Broken Boot Gold mine tour. It lasted 30 minutes and was fine.

Next door to Deadwood is the city of Lead. The Homestead mine there is still producing ( $2 billon and counting ), but it is a " open" mine. Above ground.

Leaving Hill City to Spearfish, take route 14A, Spearfish Scenic Loop. Stop off at Rough Gage Falls. It's also near where part of the movie " Dances with Wolves" was taped. Just a sign there and we couldn't figure out where " Wind Through His Hair " ?? said goodbye.

Driving west to Devils Tower on Hwy 90, about 30 minutes outside of Spearfish, is the " Varo Bison Jump" . It's a archeological site where college students are working and high school students are guiding. Hundreds of years ago indians would stamped bison off a ravine or cliff.

It won't take 30 minutes and it's right off the highway.

At Devils Towere take the 1.3 mile Tower Trail. You'll probably see some climbers there. The park service facility is small and scheduled to be moved and expanded in 2 years.

Too bad you couldn't make it to Little Bighorn, Custers Last Stand.

If you can, take route 212 west from Devils Tower. It's about 50 miles shorter than taking hwy 90. With excellent park and the best Park Rangers, especially Ranger Mike Donahue, we have ever seen/heard, Little Bighorn is worth the drive..

Location is well preserved and right off the highway.

If you do, go 1 hour Northwest to Pompeiis Pillar. It's the only known location/evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Clark , Lewis took another route back and they meet further down the Missouri river, etched his name and date here.

Brand new visitors center.

5 kids ! You must be driving a bus.

Rochester Hills...
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6. Re: Itinerary Take 1

In Hill City the dinosaur museum is entered through the store "Everything Prehistoric". You wouldn't even know the museum is there, but it is incredible. One large room and owned by the family that found Sue the big T. Rex. Don't miss it with the kids! One hour will do you there, IF you can drag the kids out of the store.

Do the walk around Sylvan Lake. Our kids loved it and loved all the rocks to climb on. Half way through the hike, take a short jaunt down the Sunday Gorge Trail. Go as far as you want and turn back. Amazing!

We did the Thunder Mountain Gold Mine in Keystone and it was great for the kids. Just enough and not too much. You get to wear fun hats. We paid for the kids to pan for gold and didn't pay for ourselves (we ended up helping them anyway). They loved it.

Take time to stop at the "rock shops" along the road. You'll see what I mean when you get there. Our kids never tired of poking through them.

On the Wildlife Loop at Custer, stop at the ranger station and ask where the buffalo herd is. They will direct you to exactly where to see them. Take along something to feed the donkeys (they're the only wildlife you can feed).

7. Re: Itinerary Take 1

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