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First Trip to Mounth Rushmore/Badlands

New York
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First Trip to Mounth Rushmore/Badlands


I am thinkink of a trip to the area. I am from NYC, and would be leaving with Sunday August 19 or Monday August 20. Likely flying in to Rapid City, and hten renting a car.

Some questions:

1) How many days/night is good for a trip? I am a single, 41 yr old man. I enjoy both walking to look at sites, and also enjoy driving scenic loops. I'd like to do Mount Rushmore, maybe one of the caverns, like WInd Cave, and check out the Badlands area. I could be arriving Sunday at noon-ish and leaving Thursday morning perhaps, give or take a day. Enough time? Too much time.

2) I read about a traditional "chuckwagon" dinner and show. Is that fun and cool, or too cheesy.

3) I do enjoy seeing wildlife

4) Is the Custer State Park wildlife Loop good?

5) Badlands driving loop?

6) Crazy Horse Memorial?

Any and all help is appreciated.


Genesee, CO
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1. Re: First Trip to Mounth Rushmore/Badlands

my favorite part was Custer state Park, wildlife loop is great!! also don't miss the needles drive and the iron road on the way in and out.

I think 3 1/2 days is a perfect amount of time. You could also take a side trip over to Devil's tower in WY for a 1/2 day or so.

Badlands loop is good. Check out the pig dig. That was the best part for me.

Not sure about the chuckwagon dinners, never done that. Seems more like a kid thing, but hey if you are a kid at heart! (to me seems like a lot of money for bad food :))

Don't miss spearfish canyon for a pretty drive.

Rochester Hills...
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2. Re: First Trip to Mounth Rushmore/Badlands

And Needles Highway for a scenic drive, also. For a really pretty walk (almost a hike, but more of a walk), do the walk around Sylvan Lake in Custer SP. Gorgeous! Half way through, there is a spur trail called "Sunday Gorge". Go down this for as far as you like and then backtrack to the main trail. Unbelievably beautiful. Even 10 minutes down the Sunday Gorge will reap great rewards. Legion Lake is also very pretty. Go up to the "Eye of the Needle".

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3. Re: First Trip to Mounth Rushmore/Badlands

We just returned from our trip to South Dakota. We are always in awe of how beautiful our country is. We were in the Lead/Deadwood area.(about 50 minutes from Rapid City) We took a marvelous day trip . (Discovery Tours) The tour company picked us up at our timeshare and they took us to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Needles Highway, Sylvan Lake, Hill City, and a winery. It was a great way to get a fabublous feel for the area without being overly exhausted from the drive. You really get to see a lot and don't have to hassle with directions and addmissions to each tourist area. We would highly reccommend this tour if your time is limited .

We had a rental car and the rest of our vacation we took day trips (not more then a 2 hour drive in any direction) to Spearfish, ,Devil's Tower ( we actually saw peope climbing the tower!), Badlands Scenic Byway RTE 240 (Loop Road) ...do not miss this awesome 30 mile drive..and of course Wall Drug Store. On another trip we had done the Chuckwagon dinner and it is a entertaining but I wouldn't say it is " a must see" unless you are with children.


Whitewood, SD
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4. Re: First Trip to Mounth Rushmore/Badlands


I'd recommend three or four days to do the Black Hills justice. If you want to go to the Badlands add another day for that (and be sure to stop at Wall Drug just to stay you did).

Here are some suggestions:

1. Spend at least one day in the Southern Hills and one day in the Northern Hills. Everything is fairly close together so if you want to base in one location and go on day trips, that works well.

2. In the Southern Hills:

- Go to Custer State Park.

- Drive the Needles Highway.

- Drive Iron Mountain Road (going toward Mount Rushmore).

- Crazy Horse (you can see mountain from the highway, but museum may be of interest to you).

- The Wildlife Loop is worth doing -- go early in the morning to see the most animals.

- Don't miss Mount Rushmore! Check out the profile view too (a short distance on the Hwy 244. (look up and look for turnout)

- Be sure to buy taffy at the Taffy Shop in Keystone.

3. In the Northern Hills:

- Spearfish Canyon (Hwy. 14A) is a must drive. Be sure to stop at the three waterfalls. Spearfish Falls is a third falls near Savoy (ask at the restaurant for directions or look for the path). It's a short walk from the parking lot of the restaurant. Rufflock Falls is a short walk from a picnic area.

- In Lead, check out the Open Cut and Homestake Mine Visitor's Center. Lead is a historic gold mine town. The Mining Museum is also worth a stop if you're interested.

- In Deadwood, check out the wild west history. Adam's Museum will provide a good intro. Midnight Star is Kevin Coster's and has some of his movie memorabilia in sports bar. Deadwood also has casino gambiling if you're interested.

- In Sturgis, drive down Main Street. This is a big deal one week in August. Pick up a Motorcycle Rally T-shirt.

4. In the central Hills:

- Drive Hwy. 385 (drive by Pactola, Sheridan Lakes). Good route between southern and northern hills.

- Hill City is sort of an arts town. Check out John Crain's gallery. Be sure to have a meal at the Alpine Inn. Steak for supper, variety for lunch. Great German desserts.

5. In Rapid City:

- Check out the free city tour things and recommended attractions.

- SD School of Mines Museum (free) has a dinosaur bones and cool rocks.

- Chapel in the Hills (free) is a replica of 500+ year old church in Norway. (Canyon Lake Park is relaxing break nearby).

- Memorial Park may be a nice walk (piece of Berlin Wall, etc.)

- If you like wildlife, you may enjoy Bear Country USA. It's a drive through wildlife park. My favorite part of it are the baby bears at the end.

6. About the Caves:

Wind Cave and Jewel Cave are both run by the national park service and are best caves in the Hills. They are very different and both worth visiting if you have time and interest. Wind Cave is a "dry cave" and featuers box work and other formations. Jewel Cave is a "wet cave" and features the traditional stalagtites, etc. The privately-owned caves are more convenient (near Rapid City,etc.). Black Hills Caverns is probably your best choice for one of those.

7. About the chuckwagon shows, yea, they're a bit cheesy, but they're kind of fun. They're usually a meal on a hot tin plate and a corny western show.

Hope these toughts help. I have called the Black Hills home for years. It's a wonderful place to live as well as to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay.

David Baer

Whitewood, SD

5. Re: First Trip to Mounth Rushmore/Badlands

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